RFK Jr. says he has ruled out Libertarian run for president

This is a shift from his prior stance of keeping the door open.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has ruled out a run as a Libertarian candidate to assist in his efforts to get on the ballots in all 50 states -- a marked change from his prior posture, where he kept the door open.

"We're not gonna have any problems getting on the ballot ourselves so we won't be running Libertarian," he told ABC News.

Kennedy spoke from West Des Moines, Iowa, where his campaign was taking a victory lap, touting their Saturday afternoon gambit to get on to the general election ballot in Iowa through a quirk in state law as a rollicking success. Its plan was to hold a small, one- day convention in West Des Moines with at least 500 eligible voters, who must hail from at least 25 of the state's 99 counties.

The campaign says they surpassed that benchmark -- with a member of his team claiming it accrued 686 credentialed delegates representing more than 35 counties in Iowa.

The results have yet to be certified by the Iowa secretary of state's office.

PHOTO: Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. attends a Cesar Chavez Day event at Union Station on March 30, 2024, in Los Angeles.
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. attends a Cesar Chavez Day event at Union Station on March 30, 2024, in Los Angeles.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

During the interview with ABC News prior to his assembly Saturday, Kennedy said he found a single day event "easier" than amassing the 3,500 signatures needed to gain independent access via petition.

And he said "100% confident" he can replicate these results in all 50 states, despite encountering concurring roadblocks to getting on the ballot across the country.

"We're going to add probably two to three states a week," Kennedy said.

The independent candidate running on a We the People Party ticket seemed confident he needs little to no outside help, telling ABC News he doesn't plan to join the Libertarian Party to assist in his efforts to get on the ballots.

Libertarian Party Chair Angela McArdle said she would not comment for "at least a few days." Kennedy, who onetheless still faces a grueling ballot access effort as an independent, had publicly been keeping open the option of vying to lead the Libertarian ticket, which would ensure him ballot access everywhere.

Recently, the group voiced concerns about Kennedy's vice presidential pick.

And Kennedy wouldn't commit to ducking out of the race if he's unable to reach the 33% threshold he claims he needs to win come November, even if he's faced with less than desirable results come convention time.

"I expect to win. And you should ask that question of President [Joe] Biden," he said.

As for his reaction to a New York Times/Siena College poll that placed him at 2%, Kennedy claimed without evidence that the Times deliberately skewed their polling methodology to diminish his candidacy: "And I leave it to you to speculate as to why the New York Times would do that."

He even brought it up later when he first took the stage for his public remarks.

Kennedy responded to the news of Iran's retaliatory strike against Israel, telling reporters "the U.S. ought to be bending over backwards to protect Israel," but he said he does not believe U.S. ground troops should be deployed to Israel.

"It's our oldest ally and I think the U.S. ought to be bending over backwards to protect Israel. I think the Ppresident also has to do everything in his power to de-escalate this crisis," Kennedy said.

"Israel has never asked us in its history for soldiers and, no, I don't think they should be there," he said.

Former Biden voter Steven Bailey, of Des Moines, said he'd like to see a debate between Kennedy, Biden and former President Donald Trump.

But Bailey played down claims, pushed by Democrats, that Kennedy could spoil the race by siphoning off just enough voters from Biden to help Trump.

"It’s not about pulling from the right or the left. It's about who's the best man for the job, who's competent, who has better ideas, who's greater?" Bailey said. "And if that is RFK, vote for him."

Marsha Kendall, another Iowa voter, said she was drawn to Kennedy because of his focus on environmental issues and previously voted for Trump.

"He'll be my candidate. Otherwise, you know, I may not vote," she said. "I don’t know."

PHOTO: Nicole Shanahan, President of Bia-Echo Foundation, attends Gold House's Inaugural Gold Gala: A New Gold Age at Vibiana, May 21, 2022, in Los Angeles.
Nicole Shanahan, President of Bia-Echo Foundation, attends Gold House's Inaugural Gold Gala: A New Gold Age at Vibiana, May 21, 2022, in Los Angeles.
Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for Gold House, FILE

Noticeably missing from the event was Kennedy's newly minted vice presidential pick, Silicon Valley attorney Nicole Shanahan.

When pressed to explain her absence by ABC, Kennedy said she couldn't make it due to a visit to the country's southern border earlier this week as well as spending time with her daughter but maintained that the two are a "united front."

"She has been at the border all week, and I think today is the day that she had her daughter. She couldn't come on this trip, but we're going to be doing a lot of events together in the next couple of weeks," he said.

"We are a unified front. I'm very proud of her, I'm very proud of what she's doing," he said.

"I talk to Nicole probably two, three times a day," he said, "and I'm very proud of the stuff she's been doing and I look forward to appearing with her in places."

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