RFK Jr. staffer notes how he could block Biden by sending the race to the House

A campaign staffer working for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent presidential bid recently raised the prospect of blocking President Joe Biden from being re-elected by sending the election to the House of Representatives, where House members could elect former President Donald Trump instead.

Rita Palma, a long-time New York-based critic of vaccine mandates, appears in a recently uploaded video to be giving a presentation aimed at convincing Republican voters to help Kennedy qualify for the state’s presidential ballot this fall. She identifies herself in the video as the campaign’s New York state director, though the campaign said Monday she is a “ballot access consultant” and said her comments don’t reflect overall campaign strategy.

In those comments, Palma notes she knocked on doors for Trump’s campaigns in 2016 and 2020 and has “more Trump t-shirts than I do Bobby Kennedy t-shirts,” but Trump “lost” her because of “the vaccines.”

Palma goes onto declare Biden the “mutual enemy” of the Trump and Kennedy voter and said that her “number one priority” is depriving Biden of his re-election, not helping Kennedy win.

“Whether you support Bobby or Trump, we all oppose Biden. And my thoughts are that, you know, that’s the number one priority in the country,” she says in the video.

And she outlines a specific way to do just that. While national Democrats focus on cutting Kennedy down in key swing states that typically decide an election, Palma pitched the prospect of depriving Biden wins in blue states like New York. That, according to Palma, could keep both Trump and Biden short of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidential election, leaving the choice to the currently GOP-controlled House of Representatives, which she says would choose Trump.

In a statement, Kennedy campaign manager Amaryllis Fox described Palma as a “ballot access consultant responsible for scheduling volunteer shifts for our upcoming signature collection drive in the Empire State” and said it should be no surprise that different Kennedy backers are coming from different sides of the ideological spectrum.

“As an independent movement, our supporters, volunteers, and field organizers come from all sides of the political spectrum and their reasons for supporting Mr. Kennedy are as disparate as their backgrounds,” the campaign statement said.

“She is not involved in electoral strategy, nationally or in New York. This was not a campaign event. Palma was speaking as a private citizen and her statements in no way reflect the strategy of the Kennedy campaign, which is to win the White House with votes from former Trump and Biden supporters alike,” the statement continued.

The video once again highlights how the presence of Kennedy and other third-party contenders in the 2024 presidential election could scramble the outcome. Previously, NBC News reported that No Labels was in 2023 floating the prospect of its presidential efforts sending the election to the House. The organization ultimately decided not to field at ticket.

In the video, Palma describes her outlook: “I’m going to vote for Bobby. However, if Trump if I wake up Nov. 6 and Trump wins, I’m not going to be overly upset. But if Biden wins, we’re all going to be terribly upset because he’s ruining America, and the people that control him are ruining our country. “

She called her blue-state 2024 strategy “Make Your Republican Vote Count,” one she said she started preaching well before she joined the Kennedy campaign.

“If Republicans accepted the fact that New York, Maryland, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, most of the Northeast is going to go blue, why wouldn’t we put our vote to Bobby and at least get rid of Biden and … give those 28 electoral votes [in New York] to Bobby rather than to Biden?” Palma said in the video.

“If it’s a Republican Congress, they’ll pick Trump, so we’re rid of Biden.”

“All we need is, like, four blue states and there’s no way he can get in,” she added, speaking about Biden.

As she spoke, Palma stood in front of a slideshow that outlined a path to “block Biden from winning the presidency #1 priority” that included both supporting Kennedy but also “Go to Pennsylvania to help Trump.”

CNN first reported on the existence of the video, a truncated version of which has been making the rounds on social media Monday and drawing criticism from Democrats.

NBC News obtained a 36-minute version of the video from a source who downloaded it before it was deleted from YouTube. The source added that the YouTube description for the video said it took place at a church in Poughkeepsie and was uploaded on April 5. The video has a small handful of cuts in it, but includes fuller conversation than the short version published to social media Monday and includes a question-and-answer session with attendees.

Palma confirmed the authenticity of the video to CNN. She requested that NBC News send her questions by text message, and has not yet returned a request for comment.

In the video, Palma says that when she was hired by the Kennedy campaign, she told them she wouldn’t stop making this specific appeal, admitting it was an “unusual campaign message.”

“If I’m allowed to preach that, if I’m allowed to, you know, get that message out there, then yeah, I will definitely work for the campaign. But I don’t want to be restricted in what I say because I think this is a really winning strategy,” she said she told the person hiring her for a role on the campaign.

“And my boss said, well, okay, you know, you have to. He suggested I isolated to certain markets, which of course I do. I don’t go into Manhattan talking about this,” Palma says.

Fox, the Kennedy campaign manager, added in her statement that it’s “looking into whether any misrepresentations were made.”

“Our campaign champions freedom of speech for all our supporters, volunteers, contractors and staff, as long as they do not claim to speak on our behalf,” Fox continued.

Palma also did not answer a question from NBC related to whether she’s serving as the New York state director, as she claims in the video, or as a ballot access consultant, as the campaign claims. She’s listed as attending a “private reception” for donors in Melville, N.Y. featuring Kennedy later this month.

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