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RFK Jr. announces Nicole Shanahan as running mate for independent presidential bid

RFK Jr. announces he is creating new party to get on California ballot in presidential run
RFK Jr. announces he is creating new party to get on California ballot in presidential run 02:14

Oakland, California — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced Tuesday that he is picking Nicole Shanahan, a donor and California-based attorney and entrepreneur, as his running mate in his long-shot independent bid for the White House. 

At an event in Oakland, Kennedy introduced Shanahan as someone who "who will speak for millennials and Gen Z. Someone who cares about healing our children, protecting our environment, restoring our soils, and getting the chemicals out of our food, and who understands how technology will either enslave us or give us a path back to freedom and prosperity."

Shanahan, 38, who is also known for her high-profile divorce from Google co-founder Sergey Brin, was thought to be a leading contender for Kennedy, particularly since the campaign will require substantial funding for its endeavors. She contributed $4 million to the Kennedy super PAC American Values 2024 and was involved in coordinating the production of an ad highlighting the Kennedy campaign, which aired during the Super Bowl. 

So far, Kennedy is only on the general election ballot in Utah. 

The pick comes one day after Kennedy's campaign threatened legal action against the Nevada Secretary of State's office over his petition to appear on the ballot after CBS News reported that the signatures he had gathered could be invalid because his petition did not include a vice presidential candidate.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. announces his vice presidential candidate in Oakland
Nicole Shanahan greets people as she becomes the vice presidential candidate of independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in Oakland, California., U.S., March 26, 2024. Laure Andrillon / REUTERS

Documents requested from the Nevada office revealed that Kennedy only named himself, without a running mate, on his candidate petition, in violation of the rules, potentially making the signatures collected in the state void.

The secretary of state's office acknowledged its staff had misinformed Kennedy.

The Kennedy campaign said in a statement Tuesday that, now that it has announced a vice presidential pick, it will begin collecting signatures this week in 19 additional states that require a running mate for ballot access.

Those states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

Kennedy had earlier this month teased his vice-presidential announcement, putting forward some big names such as football star Aaron Rodgers and former Minnesota Jesse Ventura. 

Here are some of the names Kennedy had considered:

Aaron Rodgers, 40, is a professional football player for the New York Jets and aligns with Kennedy in his skepticism towards vaccine mandates. In 2021, Rodgers confirmed his unvaccinated status just days after testing positive for COVID-19, forcing him to sit out a Sunday football game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Kennedy told the New York Times earlier this month that Rodgers was a leading contender for the job.

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, 72, was also mentioned by Kennedy as a top contender. Ventura, a former wrestler who won the governor's race as a Reform Party candidate, said he'd consider the job, though he disagreed with Kennedy's opposition to vaccines.

Former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, 42, hasn't denied she was approached by Kennedy, but when asked on about it, only said, "I'm gonna let Bobby Kennedy speak for himself. He's a good friend and I really love and respect him and his heart and why he's doing what he's doing." However, she spoke at CPAC in February and showered praise on former President Donald Trump.

Mike Rowe, 62, former host of "Dirty Jobs" TV series, told CNN that he received a call from Kennedy about being his running mate. He said they discussed vocational training and his foundation, mikeroweWORKS. 

"At some point, he asked me if I would ever consider running for public office, and I spit my coffee back into my cup and I said, 'Seriously?'" 

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