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The unknown of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to amplify his presidential campaign

Photo: Emily Elconin Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Buttons bearing the image of independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. were distributed during a campaign rally on February 10 in Michigan.

Fabien Deglise

March 27, 2024 Analysis

  • United States

Last week, on his social networks, the independent candidate for the American presidential election Robert F. Kennedy Jr. took out the trumpets to warn the population of the imminence of news that would “shake up the political establishment” of the United States. This is what he assured in a video.

Tuesday, from California, the nephew of John F. Kennedy, president assassinated in 1963, finally put an end to the suspense and made his announcement by revealing the name of the running mate who will accompany him on the road to the White House: Silicon Valley lawyer Nicole Shanahan. An announcement anticipated for several days, and through which the descendant of the illustrious American family seeks to give himself a little more visibility on a political terrain largely occupied by the two candidates expected from the Democratic and Republican camps, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, although he has little chance of succeeding.

“In the United States, presidential candidates generally choose their vice-presidential candidate much later than that in the election year,” summarizes John J. Pitney, specialist in American politics at the Californian Claremont McKenna College, in an interview. . “But like other independent candidates, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. faces enormous challenges and he must do unusual things to attract attention. »

“It’s what you call, I think, a storm in a glass of water,” adds, while formulating the expression in French, the political scientist John Cluverius, joined by Le Devoir at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. “Kennedy would have needed a celebrity to attract the kind of attention he wanted, but predictably he wouldn't be able to attract one, because most celebrities don't want to run for office, and certainly not the vice-president for this Kennedy. »

Nicole Shanahan, 38, is a political neophyte who made her mark on the West Coast of the United States as a patent lawyer, then as a technology investor and philanthropist. Since 2013, she has been a regular contributor to the Democrats' campaign fund, even contributing $25,000 in 2020 to Joe Biden's campaign. Last February, her generosity was directed to her new election partner, to whom she paid $4 million to finance the broadcast of one of these election ads during the Super Bowl.

The ad raised the ire of several members of the Kennedy family because it copies through images and sound an ad used in 1960 by John F. Kennedy to make himself known to voters. The independent candidate has become the black sheep of the clan because of his adherence to conspiracy theories denouncing both vaccination and political corruption, according to him, by an elite to which he claims not to belong. These themes are the driving forces of his campaign.

In the last days, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s campaign team had leaked a few names of potential candidates, all located more or less on the fringes of American politics, including those of the New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers or former Minnesota governor and ex-professional wrestler Jesse Ventura. The Independent also reportedly eyed Scott Brown, a former Republican senator from Massachusetts, lawyer Tricia Lindsay, who fought vaccination mandates amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Tulsi Gabbard, a former representative from Hawaii who s opposed Joe Biden during the 2020 Democratic primaries before leaving the party and becoming independent.

By falling back on Ms. Shanahan, ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergei Brin – they divorced in 2022 – and close friend of billionaire Elon Musk, he comes to put an end to the rumors and now gives himself the possibility of overcome several obstacles still present on his road to Washington.

To date, the independent candidate, who established himself as a brilliant environmental lawyer before succumbing to the lure of conspiracy, has obtained the right to run in Utah. His campaign team claims to have collected the signatures necessary to put his name on the ballots of several key states, including Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, even if his registration has not been officially certified by electoral authorities. local. More than half of the states require presidential candidates to have made their choice of vice president to be on the ballot next November.

Campaigning on a handful of radical ideas and, above all, on a heritage family name in the United States, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is placed, eight months before the presidential election, on a trajectory uncertain which, according to polls, could overshadow both Republicans and Democrats.

In early March, a Fox News poll put 13% of voting intentions nationally for this independent candidate, a level of support drawn equally from the potential voter pools of Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Last week, CNN revealed the results of a survey conducted by Social Science Research Solutions in the key states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Kennedy's presence could favor Donald Trump's victory and thus cost Joe Biden the presidency.

“Third-party candidates always perform better in the polls than on Election Day,” notes Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington, contacted in Virginia. He assures in passing that the announcement of Ms. Shanahan's candidacy should not change the dynamics of this race, which, like almost all elections in the United States, pits candidates from the two dominant parties against each other.

“Voters like the idea of ​​having greater choice, but ultimately, they almost always fear Democrats or Republicans enough to avoid voting for a third party,” adds- he. People who don't like Joe Biden and people who don't like Donald Trump have such a strong feeling that they will do anything to make sure the candidate they hate doesn't win. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116