Trump, Biden Escalate Attacks on RFK Jr., Who Plans to ‘Spoil the Election’ for Both

Trump, Biden Escalate Attacks on RFK Jr., Who Plans to ‘Spoil the Election’ for Both
(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock, Getty Images)
May 25, 2024
May 26, 2024

Conspiracy theorist. Anti-vaxxer. Dangerous. Spoiler.

Since Robert F. Kennedy Jr. entered the 2024 presidential race in April 2023, critics have described him in many ways.

In the early stages of Mr. Kennedy’s campaign, he was mostly ignored by President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee. Former President Donald Trump praised him and called him a “a very smart guy, and a good guy.”

Rhetoric from Democrats and Republicans shifted when Mr. Kennedy opted to leave the Democratic primary last October and run as an independent candidate.

Now, less than six months before Election Day, Mr. Kennedy’s campaign is gaining momentum and causing concern for the camps of both Presidents Biden and Trump. He is a distant third in national polls, but he is drawing support from conservatives, independents, moderate Democrats, and libertarians.

And with that, officials from the two major parties and the two opposing campaigns are escalating their attacks.

In an early April video on Truth Social, President Trump called Mr. Kennedy “the most radical left candidate in the race” before adding, “he’s got some nice things about him, I happen to like him.”

The former president remarked that Mr. Kennedy will take votes away from President Biden “because he’s much better than Biden.”

“If I were a Democrat, I’d vote for RFK Jr. every single time over Biden, because he’s frankly more in line with Democrats,” President Trump said, adding that RFK’s candidacy is “great for MAGA” and “he’s a better man than Joe Biden.”

Later the same month, President Trump posted another video on Truth Social delivering harsher remarks, calling Mr. Kennedy “a Democrat plant” and “a radical left liberal” who is in the race to help President Biden get re-elected.

“A Vote for Junior would essentially be a WASTED PROTEST VOTE, that could swing either way, but would only swing against the Democrats if Republicans knew the true story about him. Junior’ is totally Anti-Gun, an Extreme Environmentalist who makes the Green New Scammers look Conservative, a Big Time Taxer and Open Border Advocate, and Anti-Military/Vet,” President Trump wrote.

Supporters take a selfie together during a rally for independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Austin, Texas on May 13, 2024. (Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images)
The video aired a few days after a Quinnipiac University poll showed that 44 percent of Republican voters found Mr. Kennedy favorable compared to 11 percent of Democrats.

After a voter rally in New York last month, The Epoch Times asked Mr. Kennedy why he thought President Trump’s attacks had increased.

“I’m a threat to his presidency,” he said. “This is a three-man race, and I intend to win.”

Democrats claim Mr. Kennedy is a “stalking horse” for President Trump and is financed by MAGA donors to prevent President Biden from winning a second term. Republicans paint him as a “radical, far-left liberal” who is only in the race to keep President Trump from returning to the White House.

The Democratic National Committee and pro-Biden groups have directed significant resources to derail Mr. Kennedy’s bid to get on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Earlier this year, the DNC announced the creation of a team to counter third-party and independent presidential candidates.

It hired Lis Smith, a veteran Democrat strategist who managed Pete Buttigieg’s unsuccessful 2020 presidential campaign, to spearhead an aggressive communication plan to combat Mr. Kennedy, independent Cornel West, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

This year, the DNC has twice filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission against American Values 2024, claiming the pro-Kennedy super PAC violated federal campaign finance law.

The FEC complaints illustrate the DNC’s attempts to destabilize Mr. Kennedy’s campaign as President Biden faces plummeting job approval ratings and mounting questions about his mental fitness.

The DNC and the president’s supporters are accusing Mr. Kennedy of being boosted by the Trump movement. They highlight policy stances in which Mr. Kennedy and President Trump share similarities, including on border security, funding for Ukraine, and vaccine mandates.

“It’s clear that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is being propped up and funded by Donald Trump and his allies because they believe that he is a useful stalking horse who could throw the election Trump’s way. We need to sound that alarm every day between now and the election,” Ms. Smith said.

Presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (R), addresses the New Hampshire Senate at the State House in Concord, N.H., on June 1, 2023. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

At a recent voter rally in West Des Moines, Iowa, where his campaign reported that it qualified for the state’s general election ballot, Mr. Kennedy said Democrats are demonstrating hypocrisy in their efforts to keep him off the ballot.

“The Democratic Party is supposed to be about exemplifying democracy and being a template for democracy around the world. If you ask high-level Democratic officials why they are doing this they say, ‘We have to do this because Trump poses a huge threat to democracy.’ They are essentially arguing we have to subvert democracy in order to save it.”

Though President Biden hasn’t publicly discussed Mr. Kennedy’s campaign, he enthusiastically accepted the endorsement of around 15 members of the Kennedy family last month.

Several members of Mr. Kennedy’s family have expressed concern that their relative will prevent President Biden from winning a second term and instead lead to a Trump White House.

Mr. Kennedy noted that several family members are also working for his campaign, including his daughter-in-law Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, who manages his campaign, and his cousin Anthony Shriver.

President Trump rarely mentioned Mr. Kennedy until recent weeks when polls began showing the challenger’s backing among conservatives and independents.

A survey conducted May 9 to 15 by McLaughlin & Associates found that President Trump leads with 38 percent support, followed by President Biden at 36 percent, Mr. Kennedy at 11 percent, Mr. West at 3 percent, and Ms. Stein at 2 percent.

Among independents, President Biden has the advantage with 29 percent. Mr. Kennedy is second at 23 percent, followed by 22 percent for President Trump.

Multiple polls have shown that at least half of American voters don’t want to cast their ballots for President Biden or President Trump, Mr. Kennedy has noted.

On May 4, he told Epoch TV’s “American Thought Leaders” that he’s optimistic about winning.

“Almost 100 percent of people planning to vote for President Biden will say they are doing so because they’re scared that President Trump will be elected and it will be the end of the Republic,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Many President Trump supporters are voting for the former president because they believe that President Biden will “get us into a war” or “just deteriorate in office,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump wait for the start of a campaign rally on Wildwood Beach in Wildwood, N.J., on May 11, 2024. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“My challenge is, how do I get Americans to vote out of hope rather than out of fear?”

Mr. Kennedy said he is focused on getting on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and reaching voters to inform them of a platform that embraces unity, seeks to end “forever wars,” addresses issues such as tackling corporate corruption, what he calls “government agency capture,” censorship, and what he deems the “chronic disease epidemic.”

The Kennedy–Nicole Shanahan ticket has gathered enough signatures for ballot access in 15 states, totaling 201 Electoral College votes: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

Resistance from Democrats and Republicans about Mr. Kennedy’s presence in the race persisted after the announcement that CNN will host a debate on June 27 between the current and former presidents, and that Mr. Kennedy could qualify if he met select conditions.

Initially, campaign officials for President Biden and President Trump expressed dismay about the possibility that the independent challenger could join their candidates on stage.

Both campaigns said that CNN assured them that Mr. Kennedy would not be part of the debate.

On May 16, President Trump told Scripps News that he had “no problem” with Mr. Kennedy participating in the debates.

Frank Fahrenkopf, cofounder of the Commission on Presidential Debates, said that President Biden’s campaign implored CNN to “promise” it wouldn’t allow Mr. Kennedy to participate.

According to CNN’s debate qualification rules, a candidate’s name must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency by the June 20 debate eligibility deadline. Qualifiers must also earn at least 15 percent support in three polls meeting CNN’s criteria.

Mr. Kennedy said he intends to meet the qualifications and should be on the debate stage, citing a Gallup poll that showed independents now represent 43 percent of American voters compared to 27 percent each for Democrats and Republicans.

Former President Donald Trump arrives for a rally in Green Bay, Wis., on April 2, 2024. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Mr. Kennedy, who contemplated running for president as a libertarian before opting to remain an independent, also challenged President Trump to debate him at the Libertarian Party’s national convention, which began May 24 in Washington.

Mr. Kennedy spoke at the event on May 24, while President Trump will deliver his address on May 25.

As he continues his ballot access quest, Mr. Kennedy told The Epoch Times at a recent campaign stop in suburban Detroit that he expects officials from both major parties to “do whatever they can to keep me off the ballot.”

His campaign waits until the last possible moment to submit petition signatures so both major parties have less time to mount challenges, he said.

Called a “spoiler” by many political pundits, Mr. Kennedy has said multiple times that he plans to “spoil the election for President Biden and President Trump” by winning the White House bid.

He acknowledges that the criticism from both sides will escalate as Election Day draws closer. That, he told The Epoch Times, is part of the “toxic polarization of the two-party system.”

“Neither President Trump or President Biden are capable of ending polarization because both of them are the products of it,“ he said. ”Both of them feed off it.”