MAGA rages at RFK Jr. stunt ahead of Donald Trump’s speech

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his supporters have reportedly handed out rubber chickens to attendees of the Libertarian Party convention ahead of former President Donald Trump‘s speech Saturday night in Washington, D.C.

The squawking rubber chickens have “Debate Bobby” written on them and are presumably intended to heckle and mock the presumptive Republican nominee as he looks to court right-leaning libertarian voters.

The stunt faced backlash on social media from Trump supporters.

“I am told @RobertKennedyJr is handing out rubber chickens to use as noise makers during President Trump’s speech at the Libertarian National Convention tonight. Kennedy supporters plan on booing Trump and disrupting his speech,” far-right activist Laura Loomer posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday.

Loomer also brought attention to a video posted to X on Friday night by Libertarian Bryce Lipscomb. In the video, a convention attendee can be heard making a motion “to tell Trump to [expletive] himself.”

“Seems like President Trump is about to walk into an ambush…,” she posted to X Saturday morning.

Trump ally Vivek Ramaswamy was met with boos at the convention on Friday when he mentioned Trump’s name during a speech to Libertarian delegates.

On Saturday afternoon, more supporters of Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement bashed the rubber chickens distributed by the Kennedy Jr. campaign.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks in Oakland, California, on March 26. Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Crotona Park in the South Bronx on Thursday in New York…

AFP/Getty Images

Such a clown. @RobertKennedyJr is a Democrat plant to either take Joe’s place or trick others into thinking he’s different. He’s not. He’s a Democrat. Team RFK Jr. passed out rubber chickens at Libertarian National Convention encouraging the audience to make noise during Donald Trump’s speech,” X user @texan_maga posted.

“DIRTY TRICKS? RFK Jr. is passing out rubber chickens to the audience to squawk while Trump is speaking tonight in an effort to get him to debate,” X user @amuse wrote.

Newsweek has reached out to the Kennedy Jr. and Trump campaigns, along with the Libertarian Party, via email Saturday afternoon. This story will be updated with any provided statements.

CNN’s Kate Sullivan reported Saturday night that Secret Service agents were confiscating the rubber chickens before attendees entered Trump’s speech.

“No lighters, no water bottles, no noisy chickens,” one agent yelled out to people in line, Sullivan posted on X.

According to journalist David Weigel, Trump is scheduled to speak at 8 p.m. in an upstairs room, separate from the downstairs room with loyal, Libertarian delegates.

“Hello from the Libertarian National Convention. Downstairs, the LP’s delegates keep booing Donald Trump; upstairs, the room for the 8 pm speech has been sweetened with dozens of suburban Republicans who drove in for it,” Weigel posted on X.

Reporting from the convention, documentarian and editor Ford Fischer posted videos starting around 6 p.m. showing Libertarian delegates filing into the room where Trump is scheduled to speak. Initially, a host of Trump supporters took up many of the seats at the front of the room. Then, when the Libertarians arrived, more space was established near the stage where Trump will speak.

Libertarians will pick their White House nominee during the gathering in Washington, D.C., that wraps up Sunday. According to Ballotpedia, there are 34 registered Libertarian presidential candidates.

Kennedy, the son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the nephew of former Democratic President John F. Kennedy, addressed the convention on Friday.

During his speech, he blasted President Joe Biden and Trump for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic during their presidencies.

“Maybe a brain worm ate that part of my memory, but I don’t recall any part of the United States Constitution where there’s an exemption for pandemics,” Kennedy Jr. said, referencing a New York Times report that he was diagnosed more than a decade ago with a parasite that lodged in his brain.

“Democratic and Republican administrations have taken turns assaulting our constitutional rights and freedoms,” he added.

According to the Associated Press, Kennedy Jr.’s own presence at the Libertarian convention was controversial. Some delegates wanted to bar his speech due to the fact that he previously talked publicly about pursuing the Libertarian nomination as a way to secure ballot access.

Kennedy, an attorney who has risen to prominence in recent years for his vocal stance against vaccines, was not on the list of Libertarian presidential nominees on Saturday, according to the AP.

The Libertarian convention speeches come on the heels of the Trump and Biden campaigns agreeing to a series of debates leading up to the November election. Since then, Kennedy Jr. and his supporters, along with advocacy groups, have made their case for inclusion in the debates, but so far, to no avail.

A Harvard CAPS/Harris survey released on Monday asked respondents whether presidential debates should “include third-party or independent candidates that clear a viable threshold, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., or not?”

The vast majority said yes.

The survey was conducted online May 15-16 and polled 1,660 registered voters. It found that 71 percent of Americans think the presidential debates “should include independent or third-party candidates.”

While critics dismiss Kennedy’s campaign as a potential spoiler in the race, leading political analysts to argue his impact could be dual-sided. A prominent political scientist recently told Newsweek that Kennedy “has as much potential to take away votes from Trump as he does from Biden.”

“If Kennedy gets to go on a rant about COVID vaccines and government conspiracies, it will damage Trump by eating into his populist support. If, instead, the themes veer into tackling climate change, increasing the minimum wage, and aiding labor rights, it will hurt Biden by taking some of the wind out of his sails,” Thomas Gift, who heads the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London, said.

The Libertarian Convention homepage said Trump’s Saturday speech will be a “momentous occasion and will mark the first time a former President directly addresses our members, candidates, and executive committee. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear insights from a prominent figure in American politics and watch him engage with Libertarian ideals.”

Update: 5/25/2024, 7:20 p.m.: This story was updated with additional information.