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RFK Jr. announces Nicole Shanahan as his VP pick

What we covered here

  • Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced Silicon Valley attorney and entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan as his running mate at a rally in Oakland, California, this afternoon.
  • The announcement will accelerate Kennedy’s attempt to gain ballot access in as many states as possible. Nearly half require a candidate to name a vice presidential pick in order to advance that process. Kennedy's candidacy has raised alarm bells among some Democrats, who see him as a spoiler candidate who could help Donald Trump defeat Joe Biden in November.
  • Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held an event on health care in North Carolina, while Trump urged his backers to buy a “God Bless the USA” Bible for $59.99 as the presumptive Republican nominee faces mounting legal bills
Our live coverage has ended. Read more about RFK Jr.'s announcement below.
6:08 p.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Democratic surrogates say RFK Jr. "is Donald Trump with a Kennedy name slapped on him"

The Democratic National Committee fired back Tuesday at Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after the independent presidential candidate named his running mate pick, with one surrogate telling reporters on a call that Kennedy “is Donald Trump with a Kennedy name slapped on him.” 
“There is absolutely no path for Kennedy to become president — and he knows that, that is why he picked a VP ... who can buy his way onto the ballot in a number of states,” Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow said, referring to vice presidential candidate Nicole Shanahan.

McMorrow warned Tuesday that misinformation espoused by Kennedy and Shanahan could sow mistrust in vaccine safety — a sentiment echoed by California Rep. Robert Garcia, who also joined the call.

“[Kennedy] is a person that is a tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist, he is anti-vaccine, he is anti-science, he is anti-truth and does nothing but put out lies and misinformation that actually damages and hurts public health across this country,” Garcia said Tuesday. “And his vice-presidential pick essentially just doubles down on these anti-vaccine conspiracies, anti-health agenda."

In her remarks Tuesday in Oakland, California, Shanahan called for further research into “every possible cause of the chronic disease epidemic” while questioning the “cumulative impact” of prescriptions and vaccines on children’s health.
Surrogates on the Democratic call rebuffed the idea that Kennedy's selection of Shanahan, who in the past has donated to Democratic candidates, including President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, could be a sign that party donors or voters are seeking an alternative to Biden in November.
“I've not seen that on the Democratic side, and I think the enthusiasm, particularly among donors, continues to remain high,” Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Austin Davis told CNN. “The only purpose of Robert Kennedy running is to be a spoiler. His goal is to take votes from President Biden to help elect Donald Trump, and we can't let it happen.”
6:06 p.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Shanahan expresses skepticism about the effects of “pharmaceutical medicine"

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s vice presidential pick, Nicole Shanahan, cited finding a cure for autism and chronic diseases as important to her and detailed her personal experience with her daughter’s autism diagnosis. 
Shanahan also expressed skepticism about the effects of “pharmaceutical medicine,” while implicitly making the false suggestion that modern medicine, including vaccines, may contribute to rising rates of autism diagnoses. 

Speaking at a campaign event in Oakland, California, Shanahan spoke about her and Kennedy’s shared goal of eradicating chronic disease. 

“I got into it through my own journey of reproductive health followed by a steep learning curve for caring for my daughter, who has an autism diagnosis,” she said.

Shanahan called for further research into “every possible cause of the chronic disease epidemic” while questioning the “cumulative impact” of prescriptions and vaccines on children’s health. 

“Pharmaceutical medicine has its place, but no single safety study can assess the cumulative impact of one prescription on top of another prescription, and one shot on top of another shot on top of another shot throughout the course of childhood. We just don't do that study right now, and we ought to,” she said to resounding applause from the crowd.
Shanahan’s comments come as she joins the campaign led by Kennedy, a leading proponent of the discredited links between vaccines and autism.
5:36 p.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Meanwhile: Biden and Harris team up for a rare joint appearance in North Carolina to take on GOP over health care

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took on Republicans over health care in North CarolinaTuesday, looking to press what they believe is a winning issue ahead of November’s election.

The stop in the North Carolina capital of Raleigh marked a rare joint appearance on the road by the duo, highlighting the emphasis they will place on health care in the general election clash against former President Donald Trump.

Biden’s advisers believed Tuesday’s visit would provide a stark contrast between the Democratic ticket’s vision for health care and reproductive rights and proposals put forth by Republicans. It took place on the heels of a campaign push slamming Trump for threatening to repeal the Affordable Care Act if he’s elected to a second term.
“Donald Trump and MAGA friends are nothing if not persistent. They’ve tried to repeal it 50 times, not a joke. Fifty times they’ve tried to repeal it. We stopped them every time now,” Biden told the Raleigh crowd Tuesday. “Kamala and I have come back to North Carolina to celebrate the ACA and to remind all of us, we can’t take anything for granted.”
The trip came as the Biden campaign is looking to North Carolina as a possible pickup opportunity in November’s election after he lost the state to Trump by just 1 point in 2020. A Marist poll conducted this month found no clear leader in the race, with Trump receiving 51% support to Biden’s 48% among registered voters. The survey had a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.
6:35 p.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Why Kennedy's vice presidential announcement is key to his ballot access efforts

Supporters are handed signs during a campaign event for Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Oakland, California on March 26. Eric Risberg/AP

Major-party presidential candidates typically announce their vice presidential nominees closer to their party’s nominating conventions in the summer.

But independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. moved early with his announcement of Nicole Shanahan as his running mate so his campaign can transition into the next phase of its ballot access efforts.

Kennedy has set a goal to qualify for the ballot in all 50 states and Washington, DC, but he is so far on the ballot only in Utah. His campaign has said it has gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in New Hampshire, Nevada and Hawaii, while a super PAC backing his White House bid has said it has collected enough signatures to qualify Kennedy in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and South Carolina.

The Kennedy campaign said Tuesday it is “already actively collecting signatures in 17 states and is kicking off its petition gathering this week in 19 additional states that are open and require a vice presidential candidate.”

Shanahan said Tuesday she plans to “spend the next seven months” working to get Kennedy on “each and every ballot in this country,” highlighting the crucial role her selection will play in helping secure ballot access in more states.  

Kennedy's ballot access in Nevada, however, could be in jeopardy. An “error” made by a staffer at the Nevada secretary of state's office in communicating ballot access guidance could force the Kennedy campaign to start from square one. Read more here.
5:26 p.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Meanwhile: Trump is selling Bibles for $59.99 as he faces growing legal bills

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was not the only presidential candidate with news for supporters Tuesday.
Former President Donald Trump urged his backers to buy a “God Bless the USA” Bible for $59.99 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee faces mounting legal bills amid his third presidential run. 
Trump posted a video to his Truth Social platform in which he says he has partnered with singer Lee Greenwood — whose song “God Bless the USA” opens all of Trump’s rallies — to promote the Bible ahead of Easter this Sunday.

The Bible is advertised as “the only Bible endorsed by President Trump.”

The website Trump links to says: “ is not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Ventures LLC or any of their respective principals or affiliates.”

“ uses Donald J. Trump’s name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms,” the disclaimer continues.

The language is similar to what appears on the website for Trump’s recently announced sneakers.

As advertised, the Bibles will include copies of a “Handwritten chorus to 'God Bless The USA' by Lee Greenwood,” the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance.

5:02 p.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Shanahan says she "didn't think much" of RFK at first but soon felt he offered "hope for our democracy"

Vice presidential candidate Nicole Shanahan, a former Democratic donor who contributed to President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, said she was initially not interested in Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s candidacy until a friend prompted her to listen to his interviews. 
“As recently as a year ago, I didn't think much of Bobby Kennedy. I didn't think much of him, because I didn't know much,” Shanahan said. “But then a friend pulled me aside one day and said, ‘Nicole, please do me a favor. Just listen to one interview with Bobby Kennedy.'"

Shanahan said that after listening to multiple interviews, she began to feel “hope for our democracy,” noting that the feeling came for “the first time in a long time.” 

Shanahan also told the crowd she was officially “leaving the Democratic Party,” believing Democrats have “lost their way." She invited Democrats and Republicans alike who feel alienated to join “this movement to unify and heal America.” 

The vice presidential candidate also suggested that some conservative voters may feel the same way about the GOP as she does about her former party. 

“The Republican Party, like the Democratic, is letting them down because the actions of the party are diverting from the values that actually support individual freedom. ... If you are one of those disillusioned Republicans, I welcome you to join me, a disillusioned Democrat, here in this new movement to unify and heal America,” she said.

4:38 p.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Shanahan shares details of growing up in Oakland in first remarks as VP candidate

Nicole Shanahan waves from the podium during a campaign event for presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Tuesday in Oakland, California. Eric Risberg/AP

Independent vice presidential candidate Nicole Shanahan outlined her background in remarks Tuesday introducing herself to voters supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign in Oakland, California. 

Shanahan, who grew up in Oakland, said that the city "will always have a special place in my heart,” before thanking her mother, who attended the event. 

Shanahan said her mother, who emigrated from China, worked different jobs in the Bay Area city to support their family and described her father as “plagued by substance abuse” and said he “struggled to keep a job.” 

“I think of him when I see the statistics of the millions of Americans who are addicted, depressed or suffering,” she said. “This is one of the epidemics of our time. It affects nearly every American family.”

Shanahan said her family relied on food stamps and government aid growing up, which informed her worldview after she became wealthy as an adult. Shanahan was previously married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, one of the wealthiest men in the world. 

“As you probably know, I became very wealthy later on in life, but my roots in Oakland taught me many things I've never forgotten: that the purpose of wealth is to help those in need. That's what it's for, and ... I want to bring that back to politics too,” she added.

4:39 p.m. ET, March 26, 2024

RFK Jr. campaign distributes "Kennedy/Shanahan" campaign signs at Oakland rally

A supporter of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. holds a "Kennedy Shanahan" sign at his rally in Oakland, California, on Tuesday. Aaron Pellish/CNN

As a video introducing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s running mate, Nicole Shanahan, played to supporters in Oakland on Tuesday, the campaign crystallized the partnership by distributing “Kennedy/Shanahan” signs to the crowd.

Kennedy named Shanahan as his vice presidential pick Tuesday, introducing her as "my fellow lawyer, a brilliant scientist, technologist, a fierce warrior mom, Nicole Shanahan."

Shanahan's selection will accelerate Kennedy's attempts to gain ballot access in as many states as possible. She will also be tasked with broadening Kennedy's appeal and potentially helping to raise money for his big-spending campaign.

4:14 p.m. ET, March 26, 2024

RFK Jr. says he will build a coalition of "homeless Democrats and homeless Republicans"

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. framed his independent presidential candidacy as an opportunity for voters who are dissatisfied with both Joe Biden and Donald Trump to vote “for someone” rather than “for the lesser of two evils.” 

“I want to talk about another obstacle that's even more important. It’s the obstacle of cynicism. It's the obstacle of fear. It's the deeply ingrained habit of voting for someone you have little passion for because he is the lesser of two evils. Because you are so afraid that the other guy will win,” Kennedy told supporters gathered for his vice presidential announcement in Oakland, California.

“Well, don't you want to vote for someone this time?” he added, receiving resounding applause from the crowd of hundreds.

Kennedy, who has picked Silicon Valley attorney and entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan as his running mate, rejected the notion that he was a “spoiler” for one candidate or the other, projecting confidence that he could defeat both Biden and Trump.
“Our campaign is a spoiler. I agree with that. It is a spoiler for President Biden and for President Trump,” he said.

Kennedy said his path to victory involved him and his newly announced running mate working to unite the country. 

“They're trying to divide America, but Nicole and I will unite it, and that's our path to victory,” he said. “That's how we're gonna forge an unstoppable coalition of homeless Democrats and homeless Republicans.

“We've all had the advantage of seeing what President Trump and President Biden can do for our country. Do any of you want more of the same?" he asked.