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Kanye West, US President - could it really happen?

By Jimmy Tam
Newsbeat reporter

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  • US election 2016
image copyrightGetty Images

"I have decided in 2020 to run for president."

Kanye West has said some fairly ridiculous things in his time.

But even the White House has responded to the bold statement he made at this weekend's MTV VMAs.

So could he actually do it?

Well, the rapper already passes the first hurdles in the US Constitution.

It says that a president must: be an American citizen (Kanye was born in Atlanta, Georgia); be 35 (he's 38); and have lived in the States for 14 years (he lives in California).

image copyrightAFP/getty images
image captionKanye collected a lifetime achievement award at the VMAs

Getting elected

Fitting the basic criteria is one thing, actually getting elected is a bit more complicated.

Kanye would have to get his name on all 50 states' ballot papers - not as easy as you might think.

"Each state has its own rules to get on the ballot paper," J David Morgan, vice-chair of the American Politics Group, tells Newsbeat.

"So Mr West needs to take advice on each state's sometimes horrendously complex, rules - some require getting so many signatures."

David did the maths for us and reckons Kanye would need about 700,000 signatures just in California.

Well, Kanye could call on his 14 million Twitter followers. Kim could help too - she has nearly 35 million.

Alternatively, he could try and win the nomination of the Democrats or the Republicans.

The Democrats have already welcomed Kanye.

The White House's responded too.

Press secretary Josh Earnest says he looks "forward to seeing what slogan he chooses to embroider on his campaign hat".

He could have "Yes we Kanye" perhaps?

Political voice

Kanye's previously declared himself to be "the voice of this generation".

We all know he's certainly not afraid to make that voice heard.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionKanye with Mike Myers at the Hurricane Katrina TV fundraiser in 2005

One of his most memorable political moments came after Hurricane Katrina hit a decade ago.

He criticised the president's response at the time, saying: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Political issues come through in several of his tracks, such as Diamonds from Sierra Leone and Who Will Survive in America.

Earlier this year he discussed politics during a speech to Oxford University students, during which he claimed that President Obama calls his home phone.

Raising money

image copyrightGetty Images

"Money is the key," David says. "Getting the message across is much more expensive than in the UK. TV and radio ads to run. Travel costs to campaign across a huge country."

Kimye have a few bob between them.

Forbes have estimated Kim's 2015 earnings as $53 million, while they put Kanye on a cool $30 million last year.

But it's not much when you think that Barack Obama raised more than $1 billion (about £651 million) in his 2012 presidential campaign.

In terms of TV promotion, well, Kim stars in a television show. You might know it.

Celebrity president

There's no doubt that Kanye and Kim have the star power that US elections are famous for.

Both were named by Time magazine in their 100 most influential people this year.

If Kanye made it to the White House, he wouldn't be the first showbiz performer to become president.

image copyrightAP
image captionRonald Reagan was US president from 1981 to 1989

Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor before he became American leader in 1981.

But David points out: "Ronald Reagan was a political activist for years before he made it to the White House - and more committed."

He doesn't think Kanye can actually become president.

"I think it's a publicity ploy. It has successfully generated worldwide name-checks for him, but most candidacies begin with years of planning."

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