6 reasons why Trump should be worried about RFK Jr affecting his campaign

6 reasons why Trump should be worried about RFK Jr affecting his campaign
Donald Trump’s decision to address the Libertarian Convention last weekend underscores his fear that Robert F Kennedy might siphon off a crucial segment of his voter base (Getty Images)

6 reasons why Donald Trump should be worried about RFK Jr pulling away votes

(Getty Images)
While independent candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr is unlikely to win the presidency, his campaign could significantly impact former President Donald Trump’s chances (Getty Images)

The Libertarian National Convention recently provided some insights into the political dynamics surrounding Robert F Kennedy Jr's independent presidential campaign. The event highlighted which major candidate—Donald Trump or Joe Biden—had more to lose from Kennedy’s presence in the race. Despite general Democratic concerns that Kennedy could act as a spoiler in crucial swing states, Trump’s decision to address the Libertarian Convention in Washington last weekend underscores his fear that Kennedy might siphon off a crucial segment of his voter base. These voters prioritize opposition to vaccine mandates and lockdowns, issues central to their political identity. While Kennedy is unlikely to win the presidency, his campaign could significantly impact Trump’s chances. Here are six reasons why Trump should be particularly worried about Kennedy’s independent bid.

1. How Democrats are dealing with RFK Jr as a challenger

BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 29: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy,
Democrats are taking many steps to prevent Robert F Kennedy Jr from hindering Joe Biden's reelection campaign (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The Democratic Party is making considerable efforts to neutralize Robert F Kennedy Jr’s potential impact on the upcoming election. These efforts include rallying Kennedy’s family to support President Biden, conducting opposition research, and holding press briefings to highlight how Kennedy's campaign might inadvertently benefit Trump. “There’s no education in the second kick of the mule,” Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright told The Hill. “In 2016, we saw the impact that third-party candidates had on the election. And we also saw potentially a fault line of not educating enough [about] what votes for those candidates could mean long term for the country.” He added, “We’re now feeling the results of the 2016 election in 2024." 

2. Trump calls RFK Jr ‘Democrat plant’ taking support away from him

DES MOINES, IOWA - OCTOBER 09: Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at
Former President Donald Trump has also launched a full-scale offensive against Robert F Kennedy Jr (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former President Trump has launched a full-scale offensive against Kennedy, spurred by polls suggesting that Kennedy’s independent campaign could draw more votes away from Trump than from Biden. Trump described Kennedy as a "Democrat plant" and a "Radical Left Liberal" in a series of posts on his Truth Social platform. "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," Trump warned. Despite Kennedy's critical stance towards Biden, his campaign appeals to voters who are more disillusioned with Trump’s handling of certain issues, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The independent candidate told CNN this month that “there’s many things that President Trump has done that that are appalling."

3. Libertarian speech reception: Trump got boos while RFK Jr got cheers

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 13: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speaks onstage at Food & Bounty At Sunset
Robert F Kennedy Jr got a warm reception at the Libertarian National Convention, as opposed to Donald Trump who was booed and jeered at (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) 

The reception at the Libertarian National Convention starkly contrasted the responses to Trump and Kennedy. Trump faced boos and jeers from the audience, which blames him for pushing the Covid-19 vaccine and not sufficiently opposing pandemic restrictions. This reception highlights a significant rift between Trump and Libertarian-leaning voters who prioritize limited government and individual freedoms. Conversely, Kennedy was relatively warmly received, with his promises to pardon whistleblower Edward Snowden and drop charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange resonating strongly with the Libertarian audience. His criticisms of Trump’s pandemic response, emphasizing constitutional violations, drew enthusiastic applause.

4. Trump’s role in Covid lockdowns vs RFK Jr’s vaccine skepticism

Pictured (L-R): Robert Kennedy, Donald Trump (Getty Images)
Libertarians support Robert F Kennedy Jr's anti-vax stance and are critical of Donald Trump's lockdown guidelines (Getty Images)

During his speech, Trump was criticized by Libertarians for his perceived support of lockdown measures and the rapid development of the Covid-19 vaccine through Operation Warp Speed. Audience members expressed their frustration, emphasizing the importance of medical freedom and individual rights. “Trump kept Fauci in a position of power, and I don’t see any reason to support him,” Henry Bingaman, a Libertarian voter from Pennsylvania, told Politico. “We can’t get back to lockdowns.” In contrast, Kennedy's stance on medical freedom and his vocal opposition to lockdowns and vaccine mandates have garnered him support from those who feel betrayed by Trump’s actions during the pandemic. “With lockdown, mask mandates, the travel restrictions, President Trump presided over the greatest restriction on individual liberties this country has ever known,” Kennedy told the audience drawing cheers, while mostly laying off Biden.

5. Libertarians choose Chase Oliver over Trump

(Facebook/Chase Oliver-Libertarian)
Despite the attention on  Donald Trump and Robert F Kennedy Jr, the Libertarian Party ultimately chose Chase Oliver as their nominee (Facebook/Chase Oliver-Libertarian)

Despite the attention on Trump and Kennedy, the Libertarian Party ultimately chose Chase Oliver as their nominee. Oliver’s pointed criticisms of Trump’s pandemic policies highlighted the party’s disdain for Trump’s approach. “When he killed millions of small businesses in this country [with Covid lockdowns], was he being a free market capitalist, or was he being an authoritarian tyrant?” Oliver told the press after Trump’s speech Saturday night. “You can answer that question for yourself.” Oliver's remarks reinforced the Libertarian Party’s ideological distance from Trump, further complicating Trump’s efforts to win over Libertarian-leaning voters who might otherwise be swayed by Kennedy’s campaign.

6. Trump calls RFK Jr ‘dumbest member’ of Kennedy clan after he gets more TV coverage

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of th
Donald Trump seems worried as media coverage on Robert F Kennedy Jr has increased (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) 

Trump has intensified his attacks on Kennedy as the latter’s campaign gains more media attention. On Truth Social, Trump has labeled Kennedy a “Radical Left Lunatic” and the “dumbest member of the Kennedy Clan,” criticizing his positions on vaccines and environmental issues. A Trump campaign adviser acknowledged the increased media coverage Kennedy is receiving. “We’ve seen an uptick in the amount of coverage he’s getting. And you know, we just want to reiterate our message. We want Trump to do what he does, what he does with everyone else. He separates the person from the politician," they told CNN. These aggressive tactics reflect Trump’s concern over Kennedy’s potential to divert critical votes away from his base.

Share this article:  6 reasons why Trump should be worried about RFK Jr affecting his campaign