Mar 27, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump says RFK Jr.'s 2024 bid is "great for MAGA"

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a campaign event

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during a campaign event on March 26. Photo: Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The Democratic National Committee

Former President Trump called Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s presidential run "great for MAGA," hours after the independent candidate named Nicole Shanahan as his VP pick.

Why it matters: Kennedy has been polling better than any independent candidate in decades. With his name recognition, Democrats are worried he could tip the election in favor of Trump.

  • RFK added new momentum to his bid Tuesday by announcing attorney and entrepreneur Shanahan, ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, as his running mate.

State of play: Trump in a Truth Social post early Wednesday dubbed Kennedy the "most Radical Left Candidate in the race," adding that Shanahan is "even more 'Liberal' than him."

  • The presumptive GOP presidential nominee claimed that Kennedy's bid potentially siphoning votes from President Biden would be a "great service to America."
  • "He is Crooked Joe Biden's Political Opponent, not mine. I love that he is running!" Trump added.

Between the lines: Trump's team has figured Kennedy poses a greater threat to Biden's campaign and hasn't dedicated major resources to targeting him. However, the team is still watching his independent bid closely.

  • Past polling has indicated that Kennedy could tilt the race in Biden's favor, but the president's campaign is not taking that for granted.
  • The campaign is building out an entire operation dedicated to attacking Kennedy.
  • The DNC has argued that RFK Jr. is a "stalking horse" for Trump who shares a megadonor — businessperson Tim Mellon — with the former president.

Yes, but: Kennedy, a prominent vaccine skeptic, is no stranger to controversies that at times might more clearly align him with Trump's base.

  • Kennedy was banned from various social media platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic after being accused of spreading misinformation about vaccines. He also criticized social distancing measures.
  • Trump allies Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani previously expressed interest in Kennedy's campaign. Bannon went so far as to suggest last year that a Trump-Kennedy ticket would "win in a landslide."

Go deeper: The battle for the Kennedy name heats up

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