RFK Jr. names lawyer Nicole Shanahan as his running mate

The independent candidate announced his choice at an event in Oakland.

March 26, 2024, 6:10 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Tuesday chose lawyer Nicole Shanahan as his running mate, lauding her stances and past work on issues like health outcomes for children and artificial intelligence and vowing the pair will give "another choice" to the swath of voters disenchanted with a Donald Trump-Joe Biden rematch.

Speaking to cheering supporters inside the vast auditorium of an Oakland convention center, Kennedy spent several minutes teasing his choice, speaking about Shanahan without naming her.

"I wanted a vice president who shared my passion for wholesome, healthy foods, chemical-free; for regenerative agriculture; for good soils," the former environmental lawyer said. "And I found exactly the right person."

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan after announcing her as his running mate, during a campaign event, on March 26, 2024, in Oakland, Calif.
Eric Risberg/AP

"I want a partner with strong ideas about how to reverse those dire threats to democracy and to our freedoms. I managed to find a technologist at the forefront of AI," he continued, before listing some of Shanahan's work with artificial intelligence.

Kennedy said he had wanted an "athlete" (Shanahan is a surfer, he noted) and "most importantly," someone who is "a young person" who could help drive out the supporters whom polls suggest like Kennedy the most: younger voters.

He said choosing a young running mate was crucial. Shanahan, a lawyer and tech entrepreneur in the Bay Area, is 38.

"I am so proud to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States, my fellow lawyer, a brilliant scientist, technologist, a fierce warrior mom, Nicole Shanahan," Kennedy said.

In a video shown to the audience before she took the stage, Shanahan described growing up in poverty in Oakland before running through a string of professional accomplishments.

She then described the difficult experience of learning in 2020 that her 10-month-old daughter had autism.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. announces his vice president choice at the Henry J. Kaiser Center for the Arts in Oakland, Calif., March 25, 2024.
Bronte Wittpenn/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris

Shanahan appeared to attribute the diagnosis to environmental causes, as she used the anecdote to discuss the factors she said cause chronic disease in children. (Kennedy has been criticized for falsely linking vaccines to autism.)

On stage, Shanahan said she began to support Kennedy after a friend encouraged her to listen to an interview with him.

"And then I listened to another one, and then another one, and I recognized that the person who I was seeing in these interviews was the exact opposite of the media slander of his character," she said.

Joseph Piazza, a 60-year-old attendee, told ABC News as he left that he thought Kennedy's choice of Shanahan was "excellent in a lot of ways."

She and Kennedy provide a "great contrast in generation while sticking to their core values," he added.

Emery Barter, a 40-year-old musician, said he was "optimistic" about Shanahan.

"I think she speaks to a lot of really important issues," Barter told ABC News, expressing skepticism that the other rumored running mate choices would have been able to be "quite as relevant-sounding."

They would have been "attention-grabbers," Barter said.

Kennedy's announcement follows a selection process in which he vetted an eclectic group of high-profile people, including New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura and television host Mike Rowe.