RFK Jr.’s Very Online, Conspiracy-Filled Campaign

Leah Feiger: Well, Eric Clapton-

Anna Merlan: It makes sense.

Leah Feiger: It’s so sad.

Makena Kelly: But Eric Clapton had a huge fundraiser. He’s able to get-

Leah Feiger: Alicia Silverstone.

Makena Kelly: I know.

Leah Feiger: That’s the one that you told me about that made me particularly sad. I cannot re-

Anna Merlan: Well, she’s been involved in anti-vaccine activism since at least 2015.

Leah Feiger: Yeah, that was new to me. I’ll be honest, that was new to me. Obviously not new to you, as all of our conspiracy vaccine experts over here. But can I re-watch Clueless in the same way? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I think not.

Makena Kelly: Yeah, the celebrities really have that macro influence where they’re able to help spread his name, his things like that. Then you see the PAC, of course, reaching these fitness influencers, targeting micro influencers who have that direct engaged relationship. The campaign is really focused on reaching people all across the board, and then at a smaller level, engaging them and activating to vote.

Leah Feiger: Right, right. What does all of this add up to? The family conspiracies, the money, the celebrity fundraising, the podcasts, the conspiracies. Where does this campaign go from here and could his candidacy actually make a difference? What states is he actually eligible to run in?

Makena Kelly: The campaign has reported that it’s gathered enough signatures to be on a handful of ballots in states like Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire and Utah. He’s also claiming that he’s on ballots in North Carolina and Arizona as well. At least three major battleground states for this election.

Leah Feiger: He just added Iowa this passed weekend he says, the campaign says. I guess to clarify, this is what his campaign is saying, this is what the Super PAC is saying. We don’t actually know this for sure. Could his candidacy actually make a difference? Anna, what do you think?

Anna Merlan: This has been the argument since the beginning of his candidacy. Who is it going to make a difference for? He is not going to be President, I feel pretty confident in saying that. So the argument is, is it going to draw more votes from the Trump or the Biden side? I would say that anybody who makes one of those declarations confidently is probably overly confident. I think it will probably draw votes from both sides of the aisle.

But I wrote, when he announced his candidacy, that primarily his candidacy is an ad for himself. It’s an ad for himself, his anti-vax activism and for Children’s Health Defense. Whatever it does to the elections or the vote, it’s going to do infinitely more for his public image and his ability to fundraise for his other causes after he’s no longer on the campaign trail.

Leah Feiger: I don’t know, Anna. I think I have to disagree a little bit. I think that the RFJ Jr. campaign is only going to help Trump. When we’re looking at polls of Trump voters and Biden voters, Trump voters are committed. They are ready to vote for Trump for another term. Biden voters are slightly less so. This is a very unpopular election across the board generally. There are a lot of voters out there, independent, or Biden or otherwise, that may be able to overlook RFJ Jr.’s conspiracy addled past. If it’s not being discussed that much in media right now, which it’s unfortunately not, then it’s an easy way to zoom ahead and say, “I hate these two options, I’m going to go for this one, I’m going to make a statement.” It really doesn’t take that many votes to have a big impact, especially in the states that Kennedy’s trying to get on the ballot for. I’m really nervous about how this could play out.

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