RFK Jr. Betting on VP Pick for Boost

RFK Jr. Betting on VP Pick for Boost

Last Updated on March 25, 2024

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is expected to announce his vice-presidential pick on Tuesday in the hopes of getting on more state ballots.

The Hill reported that RFK Jr. has already met the threshold required of 12 states. Democrats have hoped for Kennedy to fade out, but excitement has loomed over his quite interesting picks for VP.

Tony Lyon, cofounder of America Values, RFK Jr.’s super PAC, told The Hill:

Having a vice president on the ticket shows that he’s moving forward … Voters then get to see that he’s very serious about becoming president.

According to the outlet, RFK Jr.’s front-running pick is Nicole Shanahan, a lawyer and mega-donor. He has also mentioned NFL super-star Aaron Rodgers, primarily based upon their shared anti-vaccine perspective.

QB Aaron Rodgers is in talks with the RFK Jr. campaign as a possible VP choice.

Rodgers may have fallen out of the discussion after he sparked some controversy with his comments on the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, reported NBC News. Luckily for film and wrestling fanatics, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is still in the ring. Two failed Democratic presidential candidates, former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who seemingly cannot take a long-standing position besides “anti-war,” are in talks, along with advocate of “universal basic income” and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Failed Democratic presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard are in the mix as possible VP choices.

The Hill added the financial climb for RFK Jr., with President Joe Biden reporting $21 million in donations in February and another $71 million on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission. It is believed that adding Shanahan could mitigate the independent’s money concerns. Regardless, once RFK Jr. announces a vice president, it will likely push donations.

Lyons told The Hill:

Anything that gets him closer to being on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is a step forward and shows people that he’s going all the way … That, I think really matters to donors.

Kennedy’s PAC was reportedly behind the $7 million ad announcement during the Super Bowl, establishing Shanahan as quite the asset for funding.

RFK Jr’s top pick for VP Nicole Shanahan may garner more funding for the campaign.

RFK Jr’s top pick for VP Nicole Shanahan may garner more funding for the campaign.

Kennedy’s campaign manager and daughter-in-law expressed hope in the names selected for VP, going so far as to say she “could not be more thrilled” with his choices. However, she did not explicitly mention any names.

Some analysts, such as Richard Winger of Ballot Access News, believe Kennedy is heading in the right direction. Winger told The Hill, “RFK Jr. looks somewhat more appealing by having a VP already.” He then harked back to the past:

Two candidates running outside the major parties who did very well had attractive VP running mates from the very beginning of their runs. Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 had U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson of California, who was a star. They launched their campaign simultaneously. … Roosevelt didn’t need to do a search.

Winger added the differences between RFK Jr. and Ross Perot. Perot did not have a set vice president but decided on a “stand-in” and was taken much less seriously. Winger believes campaigns that do so, like Perot, are “somewhat less successful.”

Project FifeThirtyEight’s Presidential General Election polls for 2024 show Trump, on average, in the lead.

Strategists still strongly maintain that former President Donald Trump and incumbent Biden are the easy frontrunners, regardless of Kennedy qualifying for Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, South Carolina, Utah, New Hampshire and Hawaii. The two battleground states — Georgia and Michigan — are expected to hit Biden hard, particularly because he has lost footing with nonwhite and younger voters.

Although declaring a vice president seven months before Election Day is not the norm, it is considered a must for Kennedy to stay competitive. RFK Jr’s camp seeks to capture the youth in this race during a hyperpolarized moment in United States history.

Ron Nielson, who functioned as Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s campaign manager and now a political strategist, believes the key for Kennedy is momentum through media and funding. He also added:

There’s a large independent sector of the population; there’s a lot of people that are dissatisfied with what’s going on and then there’s people who frankly don’t like either Biden or Trump.

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Nielson’s bank on momentum may be far-reaching; Trump leads Biden in almost every national poll, according to Project FiveThirtyEight. It may ultimately be a tight race, but Kennedy is far from in it — at least, right now.

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