Robert Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign began by forcing the political Left and their media to confront harsh realities about their own policies on vaccines and support for foreign wars when it came to where their own constituents were at. Vehemently anti-war and anti-vax, RFK Jr. gave skeptical Democrats an outlet for their rage at a new pro-war, pro-vaccine mandate Democratic Party.
But poised to break from the Democratic Party today in what is largely expected to be a an announcement of an Independent bid, Kennedy’s horseshoe philosophies and campaign have found allies on the political Right—so much so that he may end up hurting former President and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump more than President Biden in the 2024 election.
Kennedy’s Democratic populism has found a home in MAGA world media, whose punditry sees him as a useful ally and tool against Joe Biden and in particular, the mainstream media. He has successfully courted some of MAGA world’s biggest media stars, who have given him a large platform to stand on, and his popularity with Republican voters eclipses that of Democratic ones.
A case in point: Kennedy will be a featured speaker at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Circus.
Yet MAGA World embraces Kennedy at their own peril. Recent polling has shown that Kennedy would not hurt Biden as an Independent in a general election run—though he would hurt Trump. The prospect of a Kennedy third party run should be putting Donald Trump and his supporters on all kinds of notice. With the narrow margins with which Trump lost the previous election, RFK’s popularity could be enough to swing the election to Biden—especially with the coveted normie suburban voters who don’t align with some of Kennedy’s more extreme positions.
Some of Trump’s supporters seem to have figured this out; RFK Jr’s possible Independent run has sent alarm bells through MAGA media’s biggest stalwarts, with some even suggesting Trump should offer Kennedy a cabinet position just to get him out of the race. Others have suggested Kennedy as a running mate.
It’s not quite as far fetched as it sounds. As President Elect, Trump met with Kennedy at Trump Tower in New York City and reportedly offered him a chair position on a panel that would probe vaccine safety—which is somewhat ironic given the fact that Operation Warp Speed fast-tracking COVID-19 vaccines is arguably Trump’s greatest accomplishment while in office, and one he still takes credit for to this day.
There is still a sizable anti-COVID vaccine contingent in Trump’s own base, and should Trump fail to walk the fine line between taking credit for the COVID vaccine while recognizing some of it’s side effects, they could abandon him in a general election. It’s a tightrope Trump has yet to figure out.
Kennedy could also act as a legitimate third party libertarian option, and he’s also quite popular with people who don’t tend to vote. Kennedy could pull from the sidelines of the American electorate, as Nate Silver pointed out.
Whether or not Kennedy would pull a sizable amount of voters is still up for debate, but with an appearance at CPAC, there’s enough to suggest that he could impact the election, and not in a way that MAGA world will like. At least, Trump’s team seems to think so: They are preparing to attack.
Stephen L. Miller has written for National Review, The Spectator, the New York Post and Fox News, and hosts the independent podcast Versus Media on Substack.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.