Too Fun to Check (Again): Did Trump 'Emissaries' Offer RFK Jr the VP Slot?

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via AP, Pool

Color me highly skeptical, at least in terms of an actual and serious plan from Donald Trump. But did people around Trump try to set the stage to steal a march on No Labels and shake up the 2024 election? 


It depends on the definition of "emissaries," perhaps. Robert F. Kennedy Jr claims to have shot down a proposal from Team Trump to join his ticket in January:

"Judging by his new website," RFK Jr's complete conclusion in the rest of the tweet reads, "it looks like President Trump knows who actually can beat him." 

As Politico points out, it's not the first time that he's made this claim. RFK Jr told News Nation in January that people from Trump's campaign tried to woo him, only for Kennedy to reject the idea entirely. But Kennedy wasn't the only source talking up an effort to combine forces with the Democrat to take on Joe Biden. The NY Post had also heard such rumors at the time, although Team Trump denied it immediately:

The Post reported Saturday that Trump’s team had been in touch with RFK Jr. about “premature” VP possibilities when Kennedy launched his 2024 campaign in April.

Later that day, Trump’s top campaign aide Chris LaCivita disputed the report and attacked the independent’s policies.

“This is 100% FAKE NEWS – NO ONE from the Trump Campaign ever approached RFK jr [sic] (or ever will) – one of the most LIBERAL and radical environmentalists in the country. For all the fake news- update your stories,” LaCivita posed on X Saturday.

When asked by The Post Tuesday if RFK Jr. was lying, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung responded “Yes” before referring to LaCivita’s statement.


That seemed to end the exchange until today's tweet from Kennedy. Politico reports that Kennedy got miffed when Trump 'attacked' him for being too radical, although given Trump's pugilism, this seems like pretty mild criticism:

Now as election opponents, Trump has criticized Kennedy for being too far left in multiple Truth Social posts and in a recently posted video.

“But he’s got some nice things about him. I happen to like him,” Trump said in a video post last week. “Unfortunately he is about the ‘Green New Scam’ because he believes in that and a lot of people don’t.”

“I guess that would mean the RFK Jr.’s going to be taking away votes from Crooked Joe Biden, and he should because he’s actually better than Biden,” Trump continued. “He’s much better than Biden. If I were a Democrat, I’d vote for RFK Jr. every single time over Biden.”

For Trump, that's only barely criticism. He talks worse about his allies than he did with RFK last week. (Just ask Lindsey Graham. Or Ron DeSantis, even after the Florida governor endorsed him.) That kind of criticism doesn't mean Trump's worried about Kennedy. It means that Trump isn't at all worried about Kennedy. 

If Trump thought Kennedy was a threat to his voters, he'd go 24/7 nuclear on RFK. He's couching his mild criticism in praise because he knows that Kennedy will pull progressives away from Biden, not conservatives away from him. You've heard of damning with faint praise; this is praising via faint damnation, and trying to boost Kennedy as a legitimate alternative to Biden. Trump did the same thing with Gavin Newsom last year.


Of course, that doesn't prove the "emissaries" story untrue. It's entirely possible that someone in the Trump campaign reached out to see if the idea was worth pursuing, although it hardly seems likely to have been an effort backed by the campaign. Trump famously wants all of his people marching in line behind him, even when they're unsure what direction Trump will go, and that almost entirely excludes Kennedy. Kari Lake is currently twisting herself in knots to get behind Trump on Arizona's abortion law, for instance, and she's supposedly not in the veepstakes. (To his credit, Trump has been pretty consistent in sticking to the federalism argument.) 

To test this hypothesis, ask yourselves a few questions, such as: How likely would Trump be to put up with Kennedy's climate-change agenda? How likely would RFK Jr be to quit shilling for a Green New Deal?  What happens when the topic of vaccines arise in the campaign? How would Trump deal with Kennedy's wife, actress Cheryl Hines, who can't stand Trump? And which Republicans in their right minds would cheer RFK as the person who sits a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, especially with better conservative and/or MAGA options?

It's a fun thread to pull, but it ultimately doesn't connect to anything. Kennedy wants to remain relevant, especially with the Protection Racket Media, by finding ways to claim that he's a threat to Trump. RFK got his media cycle today, and that's all he really wanted. 


The latest episode of The Ed Morrissey Show podcast is now up! Today's show features:

  •  Veterans provided Donald Trump a big burst of energy in 2016. 
  • Chad Caton, national director of Veterans for Trump, talks about the new strategy to energize veterans in 2024. 
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