RFK Jr fires campaign aide after she said beating Biden was ‘number one priority’

Former Kennedy campaign staffer misidentified her role in the presidential candidate’s campaign to a group of Republican voters in New York

Ariana Baio
Thursday 11 April 2024 18:06 BST
RFK Jr says Biden is a greater threat to democracy than Trump

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Louise Thomas

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A campaign staffer for independent presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr was terminated after telling a group of Republican voters that beating President Joe Biden was her “number one priority” and encouraging them to volunteer for Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, RFK Jr’s campaign manager, Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, confirmed in a statement on X that the campaign had “terminated”  Rita Palma’s contract for “misrepresentation”.

Earlier this week, a video circulated of Ms Palma identifying herself as the New York state director of RFK Jr’s campaign to a group of GOP voters. In it, she presented an argument that insinuated the purpose of Kennedy’s campaign was to take votes away from Mr Biden. A spokesperson for Kennedy’s campaign said Ms Palma was just a “ballot access consultant” and her speech was not a Kennedy campaign event.

Ms Fox Kennedy said Ms Palma was “immediately” terminated “upon seeing the longer video in which she gave an inaccurate job title and described a conversation that did not happen”.

Ms Palma confirmed to CNN she was no longer employed by the Kennedy campaign but asserted that she believed RFK Jr was “by far the best candidate”.

A spokesperson for Mr Kennedy’s campaign confirmed Ms Palma had been terminated. “As an Independent movement, our supporters, volunteers, and field organizers come from all sides of the political spectrum and their reasons for supporting Mr Kennedy are as disparate as their backgrounds,” the statement said.

“Rita Palma was a ballot access consultant responsible for scheduling volunteer shifts for our upcoming signature collection drive in the Empire State. She was not involved in electoral strategy, nationally or in New York. “

Ms Palma’s termination comes amid minor controversy. Her allegiance to Mr Kennedy has been called into question given her misleading presentation to New York Republican voters combined with her history of supporting Mr Trump.

In a video of her presentation to New York GOP voters, now deleted from YouTube, Ms Palma not only identified herself as having a leadership role in the Kennedy campaign, but she also gave a presentation that seemed to be on behalf of RFK Jr’s campaign strategy.

She told voters that her “number one priority” was to get rid of Mr Biden and that Mr Kennedy’s campaign could do so by driving Democratic voters away from him. But that strategy wasn’t to help get RFK Jr elected – it was to help Mr Trump win.

Ms Palma invoked the theory that if Mr Biden were to tie with Mr Trump in an electoral college matchup it would leave Congress with the responsibility to elect the next president and a Republican-majority Congress would choose the former president.

But the spokesperson for Mr Kennedy’s campaign disputed Ms Palma’s alleged role and strategy to CNN, saying her role was purely to schedule volunteer shifts for an upcoming signature collection drive in New York and had no part in campaign strategy.

“This was not a campaign event. Palma was speaking as a private citizen and her statements in no way reflect the strategy of the Kennedy campaign, which is to win the White House with votes from former Trump and Biden supporters alike,” the spokesperson said.

Additionally, in now-deleted social media posts reviewed by CNN, Ms Palma said she attended the “Stop the Steal” rally on 6 January 2021 and claimed it was nonviolent. She had also tweeted that Mr Trump was her “favourite president” and suggested she would vote for him in 2024.

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