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RFK Jr. is preparing his audience for election denialism

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RFK Jr. is preparing his audience for election denialism

In 2006, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. thought he was onto something big. in a article for Rolling Stone, argued that the 2004 election had been rigged to ensure George W. Bush’s victory, wrongly denying Democratic candidate John Kerry his place in the Oval Office. Citing research by a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, Kennedy argued that a discrepancy between exit polls and actual vote counts, along with voter disenfranchisement in Ohio, constituted likely evidence of a concerted effort to illegally install Bush in office.

“Despite media silence, signs continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had occurred in 2004,” Kennedy wrote.

In fact, there was no media blackout and the 2004 election conspiracy theories were, in any case, somewhat common. Mother Jones published a story about them in November 2005.and Christopher Hitchens he did it in Vanity Fair even earlier, in March 2005. Many Disappointed Democrats shared widespread suspicions about the fairness of the entire process. Shortly after the election, Senate Judiciary Democrats even demanded an investigation about alleged voting irregularities, demonstrating how loud and sustained those accusations were.

But Kennedy presented himself as the only man asking the tough questions, a tactic he has used throughout his career. And now, in his quest for the presidency, he is doing it again. The arc of his campaign clearly shows that he has laid the groundwork for his supporters to blame his inevitable loss on an elite conspiracy; It may seem reasonable to wonder whether Kennedy’s team or his supporters will challenge some aspects of the 2024 election results.

Kennedy’s campaign told WIRED he won’t do it. “Mr. Kennedy believes his opponents’ tactics are unscrupulous and undemocratic, but do not meet the definition of fraud,” spokeswoman Stefanie Spear wrote in an emailed statement. “He has no plans to challenge the results of the elections”.

But whether Kennedy himself actually does so or not is somewhat beside the point: he is already benefiting from the existence of a true style that he helped pioneer.

Throughout his candidacy, Kennedy has not shied away from extreme accusations of political corruption and revisionist history. He has significantly downplayed the January 6, 2021 riots; In a fundraising email, his campaign referred to those arrested as “activists” who had been “stripped of their constitutional freedoms,” and falsely stated in a statement who did not carry weapons. “I have not examined the evidence in detail,” she wrote, “but reasonable people, including Trump’s opponents, tell me there is little evidence of a true insurrection.” (After a protest, Kennedy walked back those commentscalling them “a mistake” and specifically admitted that the claim that the rioters were not carrying weapons was incorrect.)

Connections to election deniers and January 6 supporters also continue to appear throughout Kennedy’s team. The bell fired a New York campaign consultant, Rita Palma, after CNN reported that she had attended the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 that preceded the riots, and had encouraged voters to support Kennedy in New York because it would help Donald Trump’s re-election . However, the campaign did not report her attendance at the rally; Kennedy’s campaign manager and daughter-in-law, Amaryllis Fox, saying fired her for “misrepresentation” after she claimed to be the New York state campaign manager.

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