RFK Jr Won't Pursue Libertarian Nomination, Says Team Trump Asked Him To Be VP

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - 09:25 AM

After seriously considering the possibility, 2024 presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy, Jr has declared he will not seek the Libertarian Party nomination, saying he's confident he'll achieve ballot access across the country on his own. Meanwhile, in a social media skirmish with Team Trump, Kennedy said Trump associates asked him to consider becoming the former president's running mate. 

In a political system with formidable ballot-access barriers that protect the Democrat-Republican duopoly, outsider presidential candidates are frequently attracted to the idea of running as a Libertarian -- if only to access the party's hard-earned, 50-state ballot qualification. 

Thanks in part to his staunchly pro-Israel positions, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr faced an uphill climb to win the Libertarian Party's nomination (Anna Moneymaker/Getty via Town & Country)

"We're not gonna have any problems getting on the ballot ourselves so we won't be running Libertarian," Kennedy tells ABC News. That declaration came as his team was celebrating their exploitation of a quirk in Iowa ballot-access law: Rather than gathering 3,500 signatures, the Kennedy team held a convention in West Des Moines. Consistent with state requirements, it included at least 500 voters who represented at least 25 of the Hawkeye State's 99 counties.   

Kennedy assured ABC that he's "100% confident" he'll manage the arduous process -- which includes fending off Democrats' lawfare -- in all 50 states, saying "we're going to add probably two to three states a week."

While Kennedy framed his decision solely in ballot-access terms, it was far from certain that he could have actually won the Libertarian nod. The nominee isn't selected by party leadership, but by delegates at the group's convention -- all of whom show up fully free to vote for the candidate of their choice. Things can get wild and spontaneous, and not just in a political sense: 

Kennedy has plenty of overlaps with libertarians, some of his stances could be seen as disqualifying:

  • His staunchly pro-Israel statements before and during the Gaza war devastated his standing with non-interventionist libertarians (and progressive leftists to boot). The damage hasn't caused him to temper his remarks: On Saturday, he oddly referred to Israel as "our oldest ally" and said "the U.S. ought to be bending over backwards to protect Israel." 
  • While he's expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of gun control, he said he would sign an "assault weapon ban" if Congress sent him one.
  • He's also called for a $15 national minimum wage, more free childcare, and abolishing interest on all federal student loans. 

Meanwhile, responding to a series of Truth Social posts by Trump, in which the former president called Kennedy "the most radical liberal" in the race, Kennedy said Trump's "emissaries" asked him to become his running mate.  

Trump's co-campaign manager Chris LaCivita quickly fired back, denying Kennedy's claim and calling him a "leftie loonie" to boot...

Politico reports that Trump had casually floated the idea in conversations, adding that "Trump is known to workshop ideas to a variety of aides and allies, even if they never come to fruition. As he does with many political rivals, Trump has directed a mixture of flattery and abuse at Kennedy -- as he did last week:  

"He’s got some nice things about him. I happen to like him. Unfortunately he is about the ‘Green New Scam’ because he believes in that and a lot of people don’t.

I guess that would mean that RFK Jr.’s going to be taking away votes from Crooked Joe Biden, and he should because he’s actually better than Biden. He’s much better than Biden. If I were a Democrat, I’d vote for RFK Jr. every single time over Biden.”

Kennedy's polling at 9.3% in the RealClearPolitics average. If nothing else, RFK Jr is a wild card who's causing more worries among Democrats than Republicans.

When Kennedy and third-party options are included in polls, they generally show their presence in the race is a net positive for Trump. In a head-to-head scenario, the RCP average has Trump up 0.2%. In a five-person race (which includes Kennedy, Jill Stein and Cornell West), Trump is ahead by 1.8%. Recognizing that, Dems have mobilized forces to file legal challenges to his ballot qualifications -- you know, in the name of Protecting Our Democracy.