Nicole Shanahan has been quiet since being named RFK Jr.’s running mate

Nicole Shanahan leapt into the political spotlight in California two weeks ago, when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. named her as the vice presidential nominee for his independent ticket. But the Bay Area lawyer and entrepreneur has been out of the public eye once again since she left the stage on March 26.

Though she has posted several times on social media, Shanahan has not participated in any of Kennedy’s public events or media appearances since her rollout.

Friday morning, Shanahan posted on X that she was visiting the southern border in Yuma, Arizona. “I’ll be honest: I didn’t understand the gravity of the crisis at the border until today when I sat with NGO leaders who are on the front lines in Yuma Arizona,” she wrote on the social media platform.

Last weekend, Kennedy hosted his first public campaign event since the VP announcement in Oakland. But his running mate was not in attendance at the Los Angeles event.

On Monday, while interviewing a senior Kennedy campaign adviser, the Fox News show “Fox & Friends” promoted a live joint interview with Kennedy and Shanahan slated for Tuesday. But Kennedy flew solo for the interview.

When NBC News reached out to the campaign, an aide said that Shanahan was never supposed to appear and that the booking was “lost in translation.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Nicole Shanahan
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Nicole Shanahan on March 26.David Paul Morris / Bloomberg via Getty Images

According to a campaign official, Shanahan is not expected to attend Kennedy’s event in Iowa next weekend that will focus on ballot access in the Hawkeye State.

American Values 2024, the super PAC supporting Kennedy’s campaign and the group to which Shanahan donated money for his February Super Bowl ad, has been hosting fundraisers for Kennedy in Florida this week. It is unclear if Shanahan was in attendance at any of these events.

She did release a post on X saying that she is “working behind the scenes to make sure we’re on the ballot in all 50 states,” and that she is traveling the country “speaking with Americans about the most pressing issues we’re facing.”

Kennedy and Shanahan are currently only on the ballot in Utah, but according to the campaign, they have gathered enough signatures in multiple other states including Nevada and North Carolina.

Shanahan is not a known national figure. But the campaign leaned strongly into her personal story during the rollout, including her background as a onetime Democrat now urging people to leave the party.

At the Oakland rollout, many of Kennedy’s interested backers said they were unfamiliar with Shanahan.

“I don’t really know anything about her, so that’s why I’m here. I want to find out what’s going on,” said Mary Lou Martin, who described herself as a likely Kennedy voter.

Staying in the background is not typical for a newly announced vice presidential nominee. But Kennedy’s independent effort is not typical in many ways, including choosing a running mate with little pre-existing public profile.

Marc Short, the then-senior adviser to Mike Pence’s 2016 vice presidential campaign, said Kennedy’s campaign should best utilize her personal strengths, namely fundraising, and focus on campaigning in the states where the campaign has already gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

“She hasn’t held elected office and she’s not a known name,” Short said, noting she’s not like usual vice presidential picks. “She comes from a part of the country that could certainly help with fundraising — even if you’re not doing media or events, there’s plenty of ways to help. The campaign has to look at her strengths and maximize those.”

CORRECTION (April 6, 2024, 2:40 p.m. ET): Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated the date that Nicole Shanahan was named Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s running mate. It was March 26, not March 19.

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