Nicole Shanahan Ventures Onto the Stump for Kennedy


She quoted Carl Jung as she opened her meandering speech, cited what she called the “ruthless” American psyche, alluded to her friendship with the director of the “Black Panther” movies and talked about how Americans needed to remember their ancestors.

Nicole Shanahan, the Silicon Valley millionaire chosen by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as his running mate, had previously said that she would spend little time on the campaign trail, leaving stump speeches mainly to Mr. Kennedy.

But in her first outing on the hustings, in Houston on Saturday about a month and a half after she joined Mr. Kennedy on his independent presidential ticket, Ms. Shanahan signaled that she was a fitting match for him, speaking about the electorate as if it were the victim of a vast Covid-related conspiracy and defying easy categorization along partisan lines.

“I often said Covid was the truth serum,” she said of the pandemic. “Because it showed us things that people have been trying to hide from us for a really long time.” She added, with an expletive at the end for emphasis: “We can’t unfeel it — that raging sense of being controlled and captured and manipulated and herded. We’re not going to stand that anymore.”

Pausing frequently and checking a printed copy of her remarks that she held in one hand, Ms. Shanahan spoke of restorative justice and of her backing of a progressive district attorney in California, but also warned of the specter of communism in the American education system and assailed President Biden’s support for Ukraine in defending itself against Russia.

When a National Guardsman asked how she would help restore faith, as he put it, between the military and the government, Ms. Shanahan said that she was appalled by Mr. Biden’s foreign policy, warning that he was putting U.S. troops “at risk of getting into a third world war.”

“We have sent hundreds of billions of dollars to a former actor to lead a military position — a proxy war — on behalf of this country against Russia,” Ms. Shanahan said of military aid to Ukraine and of the country’s wartime president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ms. Shanahan also supported stringent border restrictions pushed by House Republicans, endorsed an ultraconservative congressman the day after he moved with other hard-right Republicans to oust the House speaker last week and, adopting the language of those conservatives, criticized what she called “the uniparty in Congress.”

Praising Mr. Kennedy, Ms. Shanahan described his campaign as fulfilling his family’s legacy, though many Kennedy family members say that his campaign is sullying the memories of his uncle, John F. Kennedy, and father, Robert F. Kennedy, by risking throwing the election to former President Donald J. Trump.

“Bobby Kennedy is finishing the story of what was robbed from his father and his uncle,” Ms. Shanahan said at a cocktail lounge in midtown Houston. “His father and uncle were murdered for taking a stand. They were both shot in the head. They were silenced.”

Ms. Shanahan, 38, a political neophyte, was brought on as Mr. Kennedy’s running mate after buoying his campaign with millions of dollars in donations.

Until now she was absent from the campaign trail, leaving Mr. Kennedy to stump on his own. She began a campaign podcast earlier this month, and has suggested that she would “give the occasional stump speech, but my primary focus over the next six months is to be with the people.” The campaign then announced last week that Ms. Shanahan would attend two campaign events in quick succession: Saturday’s event in Houston and a rally on Monday with Mr. Kennedy in Austin, Texas.

Those listening as she spoke in Houston included at least some Republicans who have cooled on Mr. Trump.

“I really want to love Trump, but his ego is just out of control,” said Denise Chranowski, 55, who voted for his re-election in 2020. She added later in a text message: “Nicole is articulate, intelligent, pensive and a breath of fresh air. She is not a politician and I am fine with that.”

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