Obama’s ‘peezy’ ad­vice for Kanye West

At fundraiser, POTUS of­fers tips to the pos­si­ble pres­i­den­tial as­pi­rant — just in case he gets se­ri­ous about a run in 2020

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY GREG JAFFE greg.jaffe@wash­post.com

san fran­cisco — Pres­i­dent Obama came here to raise money for Democrats, but he also had a lit­tle un­so­licited ad­vice for a high-pro­file pres­i­den­tial as­pi­rant who was in at­ten­dance.

“You may have heard that Kanye is think­ing about run­ning for speaker of the House,” Obama joked. “It couldn’t get any stranger.”

Obama shared the Warfield Theater stage with Kanye West, who re­cently used an ac­cep­tance speech at the MTV Video Mu­sic Awards to sug­gest that he was mulling a run for pres­i­dent in 2020 — a mo­ment par­o­died on the cover of the New Yorker.

“In case Kanye is se­ri­ous about this whole POTUS thing, or as Kanye calls it, ‘peezy,’ ” Obama said, the pres­i­dent had a lit­tle hard-won wis­dom to share.

“You got to deal with strange char­ac­ters who be­have as if they are on a re­al­ity TV show,” Obama said, a ref­er­ence to West’s mar­riage to Kim Kar­dashian, a re­al­ity tele­vi­sion star.

“Say­ing you have a beau­ti­ful dark twisted fan­tasy, that’s what’s known as off-mes­sage in pol­i­tics,” Obama coun­seled, re­fer­ring to the ti­tle of one of West’s al­bums.

And then, to the cheers of a rowdy crowd of about 1,300, Obama asked: “Do you re­ally think this coun­try is go­ing to elect a black guy from the South Side of Chicago with a funny name to be pres­i­dent of the U.S.?

“We’ll see what Kanye has to say when he gets out here,” Obama said.

Should West win the nom­i­na­tion in 2020, it’s not clear whether he will have Obama’s back­ing. The per­former and the pres­i­dent have had some bristly mo­ments over the course of Obama’s pres­i­dency, start­ing in 2009 when West fa­mously in­ter­rupted Tay­lor Swift’s ac­cep­tance speech at the MTV Video Mu­sic Awards to say that the award should have gone to Bey­oncé.

“Why would he do that?” John Har­wood of CNBC and the New York Times asked as they were set­ting up for an in­ter­view in 2009.

“He’s a jack­ass,” said Obama, who then sug­gested that his re­marks were off the record. “Cut the pres­i­dent some slack.”

Ear­lier this year dur­ing a lec­ture at Ox­ford Univer­sity, West sug­gested Obama some­times calls him at home.

This time, Obama was more gra­cious in re­spond­ing.

“Look, I love his mu­sic,” Obama said, smil­ing, on “Jimmy Kim­mel Live.” “He’s in­cred­i­bly cre­ative. I don’t think I’ve got his home num­ber.”

Af­ter jok­ing about West on Satur­day, Obama then launched into his pre­pared re­marks, which in­cluded a spir­ited de­fense of his record and a fair amount of barbs aimed at Repub­li­cans. One tar­get was Repub­li­can skep­ti­cism on cli­mate change. “It’d be funny if it wasn’t this big ex­is­ten­tial prob­lem,” he said of the Repub­li­can doubts.

The pres­i­dent drew the loud­est ap­plause when he turned se­ri­ous and raised his voice and called for gun-con­trol leg­is­la­tion. “We’ve got to make a dif­fer­ent choice,” he said. “We’ve got to make a dif­fer­ent choice.”

KEVIN WIN­TER/GETTY IM­AGES FOR IHEARTMEDIA

KanyeWest, who re­cently in­ti­mated that he was mulling a run for pres­i­dent, got words of wis­dom from Pres­i­dent Obama.

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