Trump Clashes with RFK Jr. Over Fears of Losing GOP Support

Independent candidate RFK Jr. draws GOP attention in polls

by Zain ul Abedin
Trump Clashes with RFK Jr. Over Fears of Losing GOP Support
© Pool/Getty Images

Former President Donald J. Trump is escalating his critique of independent presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy Jr. amid emerging polls suggesting Kennedy could attract traditionally Republican voters. On Friday, Trump unleashed a volley of accusations on Truth Social, targeting both Kennedy and his vice-presidential pick, Nicole Shanahan, a prominent Silicon Valley attorney and investor.

Trump labelled Kennedy as a "Radical Left Liberal" and a strategic Democratic decoy aimed at bolstering President Joe Biden's re-election by siphoning GOP votes. "RFK Jr. is a Democrat ‘Plant’ intended to help Crooked Joe Biden, the Worst President in the History of the United States, get re-elected," Trump declared.

He also coined a dismissive moniker for Kennedy, emphasizing the futility of supporting him: “A vote for Junior would essentially be a WASTED PROTEST VOTE." Kennedy responded sharply on Saturday via a post on X (formerly Twitter), accusing Trump of descending into "vitriol" and sounding "unhinged." Kennedy challenged Trump to a direct debate: "Instead of lobbing poisonous bombs from the safety of his bunker, let’s hear President Trump defend his record to me mano-a-mano in a respectful, congenial debate”.

Trump Targets Kennedy's Ally

Trump didn't spare Kennedy's running mate, mocking Shanahan’s lesser-known status and her previous marriage to Google co-founder Sergey Brin. “Her business was doing surgery on her husband’s wallet!” Trump quipped, insinuating that her financial contributions to the campaign were her only significance.

These exchanges mark a potential shift in Trump's strategy as he recognizes Kennedy's threat to Biden and his base. Recent polling data, including a Quinnipiac University survey, shows Kennedy’s potential to disrupt traditional voting patterns.

In this poll, 47% of Kennedy's supporters preferred Trump in a direct matchup against Biden, who garnered 29% support. Further complicating the electoral landscape, a hypothetical five-way race outlined in the survey positions Trump and Biden evenly at 37%, with Kennedy drawing 16% of the vote.

Other Marist College and NBC News polls suggest Biden might fare better in races featuring Kennedy, indicating a fluid and unpredictable voter dynamic as the race progresses.