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How Republicans Praised RFK Jr. – Before He Was a Threat


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced Monday that he would end his primary challenge against President Biden and instead run for the White House as an independent.

And with this announcement, not only have the Republican Party’s long-standing efforts to elevate him in service of embarrassing Biden gone up in smoke, but Kennedy now appears to pose a potential spoiler threat by taking more votes from Donald Trump than from Biden.

The result is a remarkable shift in the way Republicans and the right talk about Kennedy.

In recent days, the Republican National Committee has called Kennedy “just another far-left radical Democrat” while detailing 23 reasons why Republicans should oppose him. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Kennedy is a “typical elitist liberal and voters won’t be fooled.” And the Trump campaign has made it even clearer that it fears a potential spoiler candidacy from Kennedy, who is much more popular with Republicans than Democrats.

“Voters should not be misled by anyone who claims to have conservative values,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement. He added that an “RFK candidacy is nothing more than a vanity project for a liberal Kennedy to cash in on his family’s name.”

This is a far cry from the way the right – and even Trump himself – once talked about Kennedy. And to the extent that MAGA voters are “misled” into thinking he is one of them, Republicans will themselves be to blame.

While Republicans now present Kennedy as an opportunist and a radical, Trump vouched at the end of June for Kennedy’s character and “common sense.”

“He’s a very smart guy and a good guy,” Trump said, adding: “He’s a very good man and his heart is in the right place.”

“He’s a man of common sense, and so am I,” Trump said. “So whether you’re conservative or liberal, common sense is common sense.”

While they now suggest that Kennedy should be persona non grata for conservative voters, key Trump-aligned strategists, including Stephen K. Bannon and Roger Stone, have touted Kennedy as a possible running mate for Trump.

Stone in April called a Trump-Kennedy ticket “dream ticket“, while Bannon said two months ago that it would lead to a “massive landslide” in Trump’s favor.

Bannon even called Kennedy’s more liberal views “irrelevant” in a broader context.

“I understand that he doesn’t have an absolutely perfect, MAGA-aligned gun and life policy – there’s no doubt about that – but he speaks to the central issues facing the country, just like Donald Trump, and that’s why other things are irrelevant,” Bannon said in June.

This is how Republicans often talked about Kennedy – recognizing how out of step he was with the Republican Party, but downplaying the significance of that.

The other leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), acknowledged these political differences in late July. But he also said he could appoint Kennedy to a key position within the Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another candidate who has made inroads with MAGA Republicans, Vivek Ramaswamy, has also suggested Kennedy as his possible running mate.

And Bannon and Stone aren’t the only conservative media influencers singing Kennedy’s praises. When Kennedy launched his campaign in April, then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson also vouched for Kennedy’s character and his alignment with the MAGA movement on the most important issues.

“Bobby Kennedy himself is not extreme. He is deeply insightful and above all honest,” Carlson said, adding: “We are not Democrats, but Bobby Kennedy is one of the most remarkable people we have ever met, and we are honored to have on our show. .”

While the Trump campaign now calls Kennedy’s campaign a “vanity project,” Carlson assured of Kennedy: “He’s not running to get rich.” He’s trying to make things better.

House Republicans also invited Kennedy to testify in July – an extraordinary invitation for a current presidential candidate – and presented him as a serious fighter in the battle against censorship.

“This is why Mr. Kennedy is running for president – ​​to help us speak out and stop what is happening,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), now one of the top Republican Party candidates to become Speaker of the House.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) added in introducing Kennedy: “This is why Mr. Kennedy finds himself receiving scorn from the political left and right because, if one dares to question question the orthodoxy of the powers in place, then we are their enemy.

It was around this time that the right’s sudden interest in Kennedy proved too much for at least one Republican congresswoman. Shortly before the hearing, none other than Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) stepped forward to urge her party to slow its progress by embracing it.

“So I agree with Bobby Kennedy on a lot of things,” she said, citing his stance on vaccines and the CIA. “But I tell you what: I think there are a lot of Republicans who were misled by him. He’s not a Republican, y’all. He is truly a democrat.

Now he is independent. And many Republicans probably wish they had heeded Greene’s advice sooner.


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