RFK Jr. is set to announce his election as vice president in California

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By journalsofus.com


independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. He is expected to announce his running mate at a rally in Oakland, California, on Tuesday, as his campaign seeks new support amid growing concern among Democrats about its impact on career.

The event marks a critical moment for Kennedy’s White House bid that could accelerate his efforts to gain access to the polls in all 50 states. His vice presidential candidate will also be tasked with broadening Kennedy’s appeal and helping raise money for his big-spending campaign.

Earlier this month, Kennedy told CNN I had already “decided” on a ticket companion. Among those considered for the position were attorney and businesswoman Nicole Shanahan, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, former Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Republican Senator Rand Paul, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang , former television presenter Mike Rowemotivational speaker Tony Robbins and civil rights attorney Tricia Lindsay.

Kennedy said in an interview broadcast Sunday that the person he had chosen as his running mate “has ties” to the area around Oakland.

“The candidate we have chosen has ties to the area. I also have a great fondness for Oakland. “My father campaigned there and got tremendous support in 1968 during his presidential campaign,” Kennedy, son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, told KTVU affiliate KTVU. Bay Area Fox.

Two members of Kennedy’s slate have notable ties to the Bay Area: Shanahan, who was born in Oakland and was previously married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and Rodgers, who was born in Chico, California, and played to football at the University of California, Berkeley.

While major party presidential candidates typically announce their vice presidential nominees closer to their party’s nominating conventions in the summer, Kennedy is announcing his running mate now so his campaign can move into the next phase of their ballot access efforts. There are 23 states where his campaign can begin collecting signatures for ballot access petitions as soon as it names a vice presidential candidate, according to data provided by the campaign.

Kennedy has set a goal of qualifying for the ballot in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., but so far he is only on the ballot in Utah. His campaign has said it has collected enough signatures to qualify for elections in New Hampshire, Nevada and Hawaii, while a super PAC backing his White House bid has said it has collected enough signatures to qualify Kennedy in Arizona, Georgia , Michigan and South Carolina. .

However, their access to the polls in Nevada could be in jeopardy. In a statement to CNN on Monday, spokesperson for Nevada Secretary of State Cecilia Heston said “an error” had been made in communicating ballot access guidance to the campaign, which it had announced earlier this year. month that he had gathered enough signatures to qualify. The law states that candidates must “designate a candidate for vice president” in their petitions.

The Kennedy campaign’s ballot access attorney, Paul Rossi, suggested that Nevada Democrats were trying to block Kennedy from gaining ballot access in the state, a claim the secretary of state’s office rejected. “In no way was the initial error or subsequent legal guidance made with the intent to benefit or harm any political party or candidate for office,” Heston said in the statement.

Added to the numerous obstacles to access to the polls are the challenges of the Democrats who seek to suffocate Kennedy, whom portray as a spoiler candidate Who could help the ex? President Donald Trump failure president joe biden. The Democratic National Committee has filed two complaints with the Federal Election Committee in the past two months, accusing the pro-Kennedy super PAC, American Values ​​2024, of committing campaign finance violations and illegally coordinating with the Kennedy campaign to execute his own ballot access initiative. Last week, the Hawaii Democratic Party objected to the Kennedy campaign’s ballot access petition there, temporarily blocking it ahead of a hearing at the state elections office on Thursday.

Aside from the need to begin collecting signatures in more than half of the remaining states, Kennedy has offered little information about the types of voters he is targeting ahead of his announcement as vice president. In his interview with CNN earlier this month, Kennedy said his running mate would be “someone aligned with my values, optimistic about our country and its potential, and capable of governing the country at any time.”

Following reports that Kennedy had met with Rodgers about the possibility of joining the campaign, CNN reported that the NFL star had shared in private conversations conspiracy theories that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was not real, including in one instance with CNN anchor Pamela Brown. In response, Rodgers said in a social media post that she has “never been of the opinion that the events did not occur” and called the shooting “an absolute tragedy.” In a statement to CNN, Kennedy campaign spokeswoman Stefanie Spear called the Sandy Hook shooting “a horrible tragedy.”

Last week, CNN reported that Robbins and Kennedy It had already been known in 2023 about Robbins being Kennedy’s running mate. But Robbins made it clear to Kennedy that he did not believe this was the right time to run for public office.

Kennedy never held office, but he has inspired a small contingent of supporters drawn to his advocacy against public health mandates and the influence of money on decisions made by the government and private corporations. Kennedy founded Children’s Health Defense, an organization that regularly spreads anti-vaccine misinformation, and has promoted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories at campaign events.

His presidential candidacy began as main challenge to Biden in April 2023. He left the Democratic race last fall to run as an independent, saying he wanted to fight the two-party system, which he said has failed to give Americans viable options for the presidency. His decision to challenge Biden has drawn criticism from members of the Kennedy family: a handful of them joined the president for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House last week.

As Kennedy pursues his independent presidential bid, he has been in dialogue with the Libertarian Party since last year. He met again with party chair Angela McArdle in February, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Kennedy told CNN earlier this year that he was “very comfortable with most of the values ​​of the Libertarian Party.”

While Democrats continue to insist that Kennedy would be a saboteur for Trump, it is unclear which major party candidate would draw the most support, even as polls show him receiving significant support in key states. CNN poll released Friday of Michigan and Pennsylvania (two states that Trump won in 2016 and then Biden flipped in 2020) showed Kennedy reaching 16% in Pennsylvania in a hypothetical four-way showdown with Trump (40%), Biden (38%) and the independent candidate Cornel West (4%), and obtaining 18% in Michigan in a similar confrontation with Trump (40%), Biden (34%) and West (4%).

Both polls showed Kennedy won support from a plurality of voters who had an unfavorable view of both Biden and Trump, even though a large portion of that group also said they don’t know enough about him to have an opinion.

Bernard Tamas, who has researched third parties in the United States, said the spectacle surrounding Kennedy’s announcement as vice president may not do much to change the situation, since Americans have historically shown little interest in his running mates.

“Vice-presidential candidates don’t tend to push elections too far, even for major party candidates. And for minor party candidates, where there is already a lack of awareness, they are unlikely to have any kind of major impact,” said Tamas, who teaches at Valdosta State University in Georgia.

However, Kennedy’s running mate could play a role in boosting fundraising as the campaign navigates the costly ballot qualification process and a general election campaign against Biden and Trump, each of whom overshadows Kennedy campaign fundraising totals.

New FEC reports show that Kennedy’s campaign raised just $3.2 million in February, while spending about $2.9 million, and ended the month with about $5.1 million in the bank. American Values ​​​​2024 spent $8.8 million in February, including $6.2 million on a television ad that aired during the Super Bowl. shanahan he told the New York Times last month that she contributed approximately $4 million to help the PAC run the ad and helped coordinate production of the commercial.

Kennedy has denied prioritizing a potential running mate’s wealth when examining his options.

“I would never pick a vice presidential candidate based on how much money they have,” Kennedy said in an interview with NewsNation last week.

CNN’s Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.

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