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Tuesday, October 17, 2023
Newsmax Pushes Idea Independent RFK Jr. Candidacy Hurts Biden
Topic: Newsmax

We've noted how Newsmax loved giving Robert Kennedy Jr. a platform over the summer to promote his presidential bid in the hope that it might hurt President Biden's re-electin plans -- not that these pro-Trumpers actually want him to win, of course. That continued into September, and Kennedy became even more vocal about how Democrats were supposedly treating him (and revealing just how much he has been depending on right-wing media to fuel his campaign):

A Sept. 20 press release-esque article by Eric Mack crowed how "Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a member of one of the most famous political families in history, was seen on social media with one-hit wonder, country-folk singer Oliver Anthony" of "Rich Men North of Richmond" fame, declaring that "RFK Jr.'s presidential platform shares its working-class message with Anthony's song."

In the wake of those complaints, Newsmax started teasing that Kennedy was planning to quit the Democratic primary and run as an independent. Michael Katz touted the plan in a Sept. 29 article that gave space to Kennedy's complaints, then speculated who might be affected by it:

What effect Kennedy's independent run will have on the 2024 election is unknown. Although popular within the liberal bloc that makes up the Democratic Party, he also is popular with Repbulicans, considering his stance on COVID-19 vaccines, his views on the deep state, and his ideas for protecting the southern border.

Still, Kennedy, Green Party candidate Cornel West, and whoever is nominated by the No Labels unity party could peel more votes away from Biden than the Republican nominee, who at this point will be former President Donald Trump, some media outlets have concluded.

Newsmax then decided to push the narrative that an independent Kennedy run would hurt Biden. Luca Cacciatore did just that in another Sept. 29 article:

Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, told Newsmax that Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s decision to run as an independent could harm President Joe Biden.


However, Schlapp acknowledged, Kennedy "has taken some positions that a lot of conservatives like," including opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and illegal immigration.

"I think it's a very open question as to who it harms. My guess is it really harms Biden," Schlapp concluded. "It just sends another message to this Democratic coalition [that] it's pretty fractured. It's pretty fragile. I think it could break up."

An Oct. 1 column by John Gizzi noted the difficulty an indepdendent candidate would have in getting on the ballot in all 50 states and gaining enough support to qualify to appear in a debate,but he found people to insist that this would hurt Biden:

As for Kennedy's potential strength in November, [New Hampshire election operative Tom] Rath said "the most I could see for him would be to hurt one of the major party candidates in key states where a state could be won by less than a 50 percent share. I suppose in that regard, Kennedy would be more of a problem for Biden because he could make it possible for the Republican candidate to win the state with a plurality as opposed to a majority of the vote."

Bill Ballenger, editor of the much-read, online newsletter on Michigan politics The Ballenger Report, agreed. In his words, "I would think RFK Jr. would hurt Biden more because of the Kennedy name. His policy positions that might be attractive to conservative Republican voters have someone else to vote for with similar positions — Trump!"

"He's likely to hurt Biden more," concluded G. Terry Madonna, long considered the premier pollster in Pennsylvania, "He's no threat to Biden but could earn some votes from Biden's base. Biden has had a huge lead over Kennedy in the polls [of Democrats]."

Gizzi did quote another campaign operative who admitted that there are "anti-Trump Republicans who might wish to cast a protest vote for RFK Jr."

Trump-fluffer Dick Morris unsurprisingly declared in an Oct. 1 column that an indepdendent Kennedy runwould indisputably hurt Biden:

As long as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. focuses his ambitions on a Democratic primary challenge to President Joe Biden, he will do little damage to him.

But if Kennedy runs as an independent on a third-party line, Biden's chances of winning reelection next year are over.

Pollster John McLaughlin shows in a recent survey Kennedy winning 15% of the vote in a Democratic primary.

But the McLaughlin survey also shows that in a general election Kennedy draws 2-to-1 more from Biden's voters than he does from former President Donald Trump's.


Indeed, I believe any third candidate would likely drain whatever life is left in a Biden reelection.


Were he to run as an independent, he would harvest bushels of votes from those who already have decided to vote against Trump, but at the same time don't like Biden and are deeply concerned about his fitness for office.

Were Biden not the incumbent, Kennedy would pose a real challenge in the primary.

But with the Democratic party faithful paralyzed by fear of Trump, few feel free to throw their support behind Kennedy.

But if Kennedy runs as third party candidate, Biden's support will crack — and all the king's horses and all the king's men won't be able to put his candidacy back together again.

Morris did not disclose that McLaughlin is Trump's campaign pollster and his polling shouldn't be trusted as objective.

Larry Bell pushed similar pro-Kennedy arguments in his Oct. 2 column:

With incumbent Joe Biden lagging former president Donald Trump in recent polls by as much as double digits as terrifyingly reported in a Sept. ABC-Washington Post survey, Democrats have valid reasons to worry about even bleaker prospects ahead with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. further draining their voter base as an independent competitor.

RFK Jr. was previously polling as a Democrat primary candidate with about 15% support before switching parties for the ’24 run.

Kennedy and leaders of his former party have had major policy disagreements which became particularly rancorous regarding mandated Biden administration COVID-19 vaccinations which he believes to be unsafe as well as ineffective.

A more recent dust up involved the Department of Homeland Security’s refusal to detail Secret Service protection to Kennedy as customary policy for a major presidential candidate.

This denial ignored special considerations that both his uncle, former President John. F. Kennedy and father, a presidential candidate, were assassinated, and that an armed man impersonating a police officer falsely claiming to be a member of his security detail was arrested at a recent Los Angeles campaign event.

In fact, the Secret Service offers security details only to "major" presidential candidates -- something Kennedy has yet to prove himself to be. Bell then conceded the cynical calculation he and other right-wingers are making in boosting Kennedy:

Whereas Biden’s age is often cited as an important detraction, inferred senility, incompetence and a long career history of dishonesty are painfully obvious to all who are paying attention.

In stark contrast, RFK, Jr. comes across as an intelligent, articulate, principled and deeply committed competitor for dwindling Democrat support.

Above all, majority voters on all sides, Democrat, Republican and independent, appear most agreeably concerned regarding two key issues, the economy and illegal migration, with neither disaster likely to improve prior to 2024 balloting.


Can Kennedy actually win against Trump? I seriously doubt it.

But with his welcome help, America can.

Thanks for admitting it's all about getting Trump back in the White House, Larry.

Newsmax did slip in a rare dissenting view, though, in the form of a Sept. 19 article featuring John F. Kennedy's grandson calling RFK Jr.'s candidacy "an embarrassment." 

Posted by Terry K. at 7:16 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 25, 2023 12:26 AM EDT

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