Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura Top RFK Jr.’s List for Vice President

Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura Top RFK Jr.’s List for Vice President

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently approached NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura to serve as his running mate on an independent presidential ticket, and both have welcomed the offers, two said people familiar with the discussions.

Mr Kennedy confirmed on Tuesday that the two men were at the top of his list. However, it is not clear whether either has been formally offered the job and Mr Kennedy is still considering a shortlist of potential candidates. said the people familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Kennedy said that he had spoken to Mr. Rodgers “pretty continuously” over the past month and that he had been in contact with Mr. Ventura since the former governor introduced him at a campaign event in Arizona last month.

A representative for Mr. Rodgers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Ventura could not immediately be reached for comment.

The involvement of Mr. Rodgers – who is expected to start for the New York Jets this fall, at the height of campaign season – or Mr. Ventura could add star power and independent zeal to Mr. Kennedy’s outsider bid. Democrats fear Mr. Kennedy could steal votes away from President Biden, leading to a close election for former President Donald J. Trump, and Mr. Biden’s allies have been working across the country to keep Mr. Kennedy from the election.

Mr. Kennedy, 70, an environmental lawyer and scion of a traditional Democratic family, has become known in recent years for his vaccine skepticism and his spread of conspiracy theories about the federal government and the public health apparatus. Mr. Rodgers has also increasingly embraced the role of celebrity provocateur and adversary because of his stance on vaccines, public health and the coronavirus pandemic.

Kennedy is expected to name his running mate in the coming weeks, ahead of deadlines in states where he must have a running mate to apply for access to the ballot deliver. He initially ran for president as a Democrat, but announced in October that he would instead run as an independent, accusing Democrats of corruptly blocking his challenge to Mr. Biden.

In recent months, Mr. Kennedy and his camp have reached out, with varying degrees of formality, to at least half a dozen people to gauge their interest in serving as his vice president. Aside from Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Ventura, he is reported to have spoken to former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky; and Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate and New York mayor, said the two people familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Yang did not respond to requests for comment. Mr. Paul’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Ms. Gabbard could not be reached for comment.

Everyone except Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Ventura rejected him.

If anything could be interpreted as an indication of where Mr. Kennedy might be leaning, the domain name kennedyrodgers.com was registered last week through a GoDaddy host.

Mr. Rodgers, 40, is a four-time winner of the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award and led the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl victory in 2011. He is expected to start this year after making his debut with the New York Jets. The team’s last season ended abruptly with a rupture of his left Achilles tendon in the opening minutes of the first game.

It’s not clear how running for the country’s second-highest office would work alongside his regular job. He recently said he hopes to play in the NFL for “two, three or four more years.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that Mr Rodgers has tried to add a side gig to his football career either. In 2021, while playing for the Packers, he was among those who applied for the role of host of the quiz show “Jeopardy!”

A spokesman for the New York Jets did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The team is owned by Woody Johnson, a prominent donor to former President Donald J. Trump. Mr Trump appointed Mr Johnson as his ambassador to Britain.

Mr. Rodgers has been outspoken on political and social issues in recent years. Last month, during an appearance on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast, Mr. Rodgers said he had lost friends, allies and sponsors as a result of his public decision not to get vaccinated.

Mr Rodgers has expressed his skepticism about Covid vaccines during his regular guest appearances on the ESPN show, hosted by Pat McAfee, a former football player turned podcaster. In January, Mr. Rodgers got into a fight with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel when he falsely claimed, during an appearance on Mr. McAfee’s show, that court documents linked Mr. Kimmel to Jeffrey Epstein.

Mr. Rodgers was an early supporter of Mr. Kennedy’s presidential candidacy. Last month, Mr Kennedy shared a picture of them hiking together on social media.

Mr. Ventura, 72, was famous as a professional wrestler in the 1970s and 1980s under the name Jesse “the Body” Ventura and also appeared in films and on television before entering politics. He was elected governor of Minnesota from the Reform Party in 1998 and served one term.

He has since become a prominent figure in independent and third-party politics. He has written several books and has now published a Substack with his son called Die First Then Quit.

In a YouTube interview four months ago, Mr. Ventura said he would consider an offer from Mr. Kennedy to serve on his ticket.

Reid J. Epstein and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett and Susan C. Beachy contributed to the research.

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2024-03-12 21:41:41