RFK Jr. Backs Rand Paul as Senate Minority Leader as VP Speculation Mounts

Jeff Louderback
By Jeff Louderback
March 4, 2024Politics
RFK Jr. Backs Rand Paul as Senate Minority Leader as VP Speculation Mounts
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. poses with supporters during a meet and greet after a voter rally at St. Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Feb. 10, 2024. (Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

Upon learning of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement that he will step down from his post in November, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has endorsed Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to fill the vacancy—a signal that Mr. Paul will not be the independent presidential candidate’s running mate.

“Part of public service is about knowing when to usher in a new generation. It’s time to promote leaders in Washington, D.C., who won’t kowtow to the military contractors or push us deeper into foreign conflicts,” Mr. Kennedy wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“We need representation who will prioritize American wellness over all else. I believe @RandPaul would be an incredible successor. He’s shown great judgment and has the grit to put hardworking Americans first.”

Mr. Kennedy is attempting to get on the presidential ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In April 2023, he announced his candidacy to challenge President Joe Biden in the Democrat primary. After facing multiple obstacles from the Democratic National Committee, which Mr. Kennedy accused of “rigging the primary” to prevent candidates from competing against President Biden, he declared he would run as an independent on Oct. 9, 2023.

Independent and third-party presidential candidates must declare their vice presidential pick in more than half of the states to get on the ballot, which presents a sense of urgency to announce running mate choice, Mr. Kennedy admitted.

“I’m looking for somebody who is aligned with me on some important issues, including unraveling the warfare state,” but “I don’t need someone who agrees with me on everything,” Mr. Kennedy said at a campaign stop in Kansas City.

“I’m interested in someone who wants to end the division we face in this country. It’s a good exercise for the American people to see political leaders who have high regard for each other, even if they don’t have the same views on every issue,” he added.

Mr. Kennedy declined to say who he was considering as his running mate but he noted that he was “looking at a broad range of people.”

Rand Paul

In January, speculation mounted that Mr. Paul could be a vice presidential option for Mr. Kennedy when the two men met, and a photo was posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Shortly after the meeting, Mr. Paul posted on X that he liked President Donald Trump, entrepreneur and then Republican primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, and Mr. Kennedy.

Mr. Paul said on X in January that he would make an announcement, which led to speculation that he would endorse a candidate. Instead, he shared a link to a website, nevernikki.net, which he launched to explain why he does not support former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is the final challenger to President Trump in the Republican primary.

“I don’t see how any thoughtful or informed libertarian or conservative should vote for @NikkiHaley,” Mr. Paul wrote.

U S Senate Debates Omnibus Spending Bill
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks in Washington on Dec. 20, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mr. Paul is a Republican who promotes Libertarian party ideals. Mr. Kennedy has hinted that he could run for president as a Libertarian.

Mr. Kennedy spoke at the Libertarian Party of California’s annual convention on Feb. 24 in Costa Mesa, first at a luncheon and then as part of a presidential candidate panel with Libertarian candidates Dr. Micheal Rectenwald and Mike ter Maat.

During an interview with CNN’s Michael Smerconish that aired in late January, Mr. Kennedy was asked if there is a possibility that he will seek the Libertarian Party nomination. That option would likely assure him ballot access across the country as the Libertarian Party reached that objective in 2016 and 2020.

“We are talking to the Libertarian Party. I feel very comfortable with most of the values of the Libertarian Party, and like I say, we have good relationships. I’m talking regularly to libertarian groups. So, we’ll continue to do those talks,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Angela McArdle is the chair of the Libertarian National Committee. The party will hold its national convention from May 24 to May 26 in Washington.

Based on comments from Mr. Kennedy and Ms. McArdle, it’s possible that he could be the party’s presidential nominee.

Unlike Democrats and Republicans, the Libertarian Party selects its nominee based on votes from registered delegates at the national convention.

Mr. Kennedy met with Ms. McArdle before he announced that he would run as an independent last October.

“We’ve had a lot of good conversations and we’re on good terms. And I respect his decision to want to go independent. Though libertarians really admire the strong position he took against mandates and lockdowns, and so we’re going to stay on friendly terms and see what happens,” Ms. McArdle said.

Whether he remains an independent or is offered and accepts the Libertarian party nomination, Mr. Kennedy is expected to announce a vice presidential choice this month. It appears that the selection will not be Mr. Paul or Ms. Haley.

During a Feb. 26 news conference, Ms. Haley told The Epoch Times that she would not run as a third-party candidate or as Mr. Kennedy’s vice president.

“I have not spoken with anyone about anything other than running as a Republican,” she told The Epoch Times when asked if she had spoken to Mr. Kennedy.

“I have not talked to anyone. I have not put time into that. That’s not anything I’ve ever thought about. I’m running in a Republican primary.”

Ms. Haley, who also dismissed talk that she might run as the centrist organization No Labels president candidate, won the District of Columbia Republican primary on March 3 and is preparing for Super Tuesday on March 5.

A recent statement from Mr. Kennedy’s campaign indicates that he might not want Ms. Haley as a running mate even if she expressed interest. She asked for Secret Service protection last month.

Mr. Kennedy has made three formal requests to the Department of Homeland Security for Secret Service protection. Those requests have been denied.

After a Congressional panel recommended that the request be granted, Mr. Kennedy’s campaign said in a statement, “While Congress and the media raise a toast to Nikki Haley for receiving Secret Service Protection, they willfully ignore the multiple requests that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. be afforded the same and equal protection.

A Congressional advisory committee recently voted in favor of granting Nikki Haley Secret Service protection.

“Nikki, who has almost no chance to win her party’s nomination, has clearly won the hearts of Congress, and an adoring national media elite gushing over her every move.

“And while the Congress and the media continue to prop up the presidential ambitions of their darling Nikki, they are hanging Robert F. Kennedy Jr. out to dry. The dirty double standard is glaringly obvious and dangerous.”

Stand Up Character

Many of Mr. Kennedy’s supporters on social media have said they would like to see former Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard join Mr. Kennedy’s ticket, but she has stumped for President Trump in recent weeks and is seen by some pundits as a potential running mate for him.

Last month, Puck News reported that Mr. Kennedy called Andrew Yang about joining the ticket but the 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate was “noncommittal on the call.”

Who will join Mr. Kennedy on the presidential ticket remains a mystery, but the campaign conducted a poll among supporters of what they want in a vice president. On March 2, the results were announced from the survey that included 14,000 respondents.

The most important qualifications, according to the poll, were a candidate who works with both political parties (28 percent) and advocates for unity (25 percent).

Character (72 percent) tops the list of what was most important to those who responded above issues (23 percent), qualifications (4 percent), and “other” (1 percent).

In multiple national polls, Mr. Kennedy has led all presidential candidates in favorability ratings. Several national surveys have indicated that more than half of American voters do not want to see a rematch between President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, yet those candidates substantially lead Mr. Kennedy, independent Cornel West, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein in national polls.

As of Feb. 28, the RealClearPolitics average of polls showed that Mr. Kennedy has (13.5 percent) support, trailing President Trump (41.2 percent) and President Biden (37.8 percent) and leading Mr. West (2.5 percent) and Ms. Stein (1.8 percent).

From The Epoch Times

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