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RFK Jr. appeals to the MAGA crowd. Will he draw votes from Trump?

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As you might have noticed, the political class is in a bit of a frenzy, trying to intuit exactly whom Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s quixotic campaign for president will hurt the most — President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump.

I suppose it’s good news for the independent candidate and Democratic Party scion that both campaigns are taking him seriously enough to worry about him; after all, he’s only polling at 9.5% in an average of polls, and is only on the ballot in five states, so far.

But worried they are, and both Biden and Trump are trying to tie Kennedy to each other.

Team Biden has said they aren’t taking anything for granted, and the Democratic National Committee has built its first-ever team to counter his run, bringing in several veteran operatives known for their aggressive approaches.

The DNC also placed billboards all over the state of Michigan declaring RFK was “powered by MAGA/Trump.”

And Trump, in his typically unhinged way, has been busy attacking Kennedy, too, posting on Truth Social that he is “the most Radical Left Candidate,” whose running mate Nicole Shanahan is “even more ‘Liberal’ than him,” and baselessly musing that Kennedy could somehow “be indicted any day now, probably for Environmental Fraud.”

In some confusing messages, Kennedy himself has denounced the idea that he’s running as a spoiler to either Biden or Trump, but acknowledges that his “intention is to hurt both of them.”

But both parties seem to agree on something. Democrats believe — or are at least posturing like they believe — that RFK is a serious threat to Biden. In a DNC press call recently, several Biden surrogates called Kennedy’s campaign “disgusting.”

“All he can do is take away votes from President Biden and make it easier for Donald Trump to win,” said Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Austin Davis.

My dear friend and colleague Paul Begala enumerated the reasons why he believes RFK will take from Biden, all of which having to do with the fact that his last name is Kennedy.

As for Trump, he also believes — or is at least posturing like he believes — the same, saying Kennedy is “Crooked Joe Biden’s Political Opponent, not mine. I love that he is running!”

But there’s often a big difference between what each candidate wants to be true, and what is true.

We won’t know until exit polling in November whose presidential reelection dreams Kennedy ends up spoiling, but I happen to believe both teams are wrong — RFK Jr. is clearly going to take votes away from Trump.

‘A populist, like Trump’

Just listen to him in his own words and it’s inarguable. In a lengthy and eye-opening interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett Monday night, Kennedy claimed he could make the argument that Biden was actually the bigger threat to democracy, not Trump. He used utterly Trumpy language to accuse Biden of “weaponizing” federal agencies against him and censoring him, and CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale quickly pointed out there was no evidence of either.

Echoing Trump, he alleged not one but two presidential elections were stolen — 2000 and 2004 — and even worse, said that we shouldn’t make “pariahs” of people who say elections are stolen, a very weird defense of Trump and other election deniers.

He defended Trump voters, accused the Democratic Party of forgetting them, and called himself a populist, like Trump.

Does this sound like a guy who really wants Democrats to vote for him?

Then there’s veep-gate. Early reports had RFK Jr. considering conspiracy theorist Aaron Rodgers and infomercial life coach Tony Robbins — two very unserious candidates who certainly appeal more to the right than the left.

Don’t take my word for it, just ask RFK Jr.’s own supporters. “The Daily Show” spoke to Kennedy voters who expressed disappointment in the Shanahan pick and were hoping for Rodgers instead.

“Aaron Rodgers, just because he’s also anti-mandatory vaccine,” said one about his preferred choice.

“I really like how Aaron Rodgers stood up and spoke out against the COVID tyranny,” said another.

Yes, these sound like people who might consider voting for Biden.

Kennedy and Shanahan’s anti-vax views and penchant for conspiracy theories, along with Kennedy’s rabid support for Israel — he recently dismissed Palestinians as “the most pampered people by international aid organizations in the history of the world” — in no way endear him to either the radical left or the moderate left.

So, in what world does RFK Jr. take from Biden? If you ask me, that assertion just sounds like a get-out-the-vote tactic from the Democrats and wishful thinking from Trump.

S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.

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