“I am taking the red hat off, with this interview.”…

For much of the phone calls, his core message, strategically, was that he has 30 days to make a final decision about running for president. At that point, he says, he’d miss the filing deadline for most states, though he believes an argument could be made to get onto any ballots he’s missed, citing coronavirus issues. “I’m speaking with experts, I’m going to speak with Jared Kushner, the White House, with Biden,” says West. He has no campaign apparatus of any kind. His advisors right now, he says, are the two people who notably endorsed him on the Fourth: his wife Kim Kardashian-West, and Elon Musk, of whom he says, “We’ve been talking about this for years.” (Adds West: “I proposed to him to be the head of our space program.”)

An hour into the interview, the hedging was done: He says he definitely plans to run in 2020, versus his original plan in 2024. The campaign slogan: “YES!” His running mate? Michelle Tidball, an obscure preacher from Wyoming. And why the Birthday Party? “Because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday.”

If it all sounds like a parody, or a particularly surreal episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, West doesn’t seem to be in on it. Calling from his ranch near Cody, Wyoming, where he says that he registered to vote for the first time on Monday, West denies it is a publicity stunt for his upcoming album. (“I give my album away for free.”) A few weeks after he ended two separate text chains with me with the message “Trump 2020” and a fist raised high, he insists he’s lost confidence in the president. “It looks like one big mess to me,” he says. “I don’t like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker.” West also says that he contracted the coronavirus in late February, though he maintains that had nothing to do with his thoughts on running this year…