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RFK Jr approached motivational speaker Tony Robbins as potential VP pick

Independent presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr initially approached motivational speaker Tony Robbins to be his running mate, but the speaker declined to join his ticket.

Mr Robbins was among the first people that Mr Kennedy approached late last year, contacting the speaker at least twice, according to CNN.

Mr Robbins reportedly said it wasn’t the right time for him to run for office, due to family and business obligations. The conversations between Mr Robbins, 64, and Mr Kennedy, 70, made clear that they have political differences.

The motivational speaker has advised several world leaders, including US presidents of both parties.

Mr Kennedy is set to announce his running mate on 26 March, the campaign has said.

Following the rejection by Mr Robbins, conspiracy theorists Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura now top the running mate wishlist.

Mr Kennedy, himself an avowed anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist, initially ran for the Democratic nomination against President Joe Biden before dropping the party label and becoming an independent.

Both Mr Ventura and Rodgers have reacted positively to Mr Kennedy reaching out, according to The New York Times.

Rodgers is an NFL quarterback and anti-vaxxer, while Mr Ventura is a former professional wrestler who later served as the mayor of Brooklyn Park north of Minneapolis between 1991 and 1995 and subsequently as the governor of Minnesota between 1999 and 2003, running under the Reform Party banner. He left the Reform Party in 2000.

Mr Kennedy said that he has spoken with Rodgers, who is expected to play for the New York Jets this autumn, on repeated occasions, adding that he has been in contact with Mr Ventura, 72, since he introduced Mr Kennedy at an event in Arizona in February.

Mr Ventura’s son, Tyrel Ventura, told The New York Times in an email: “No one has officially asked Governor Ventura to be a vice-presidential candidate so the governor does not comment on speculation.”

According to polling, Mr Kennedy, 70, is pulling votes away in a nearly equal measure from Mr Trump and Mr Biden.

An environmental lawyer and vaccine sceptic who has more recently received attention for pushing conspiracy theories about the federal government and public health institutions, Mr Kennedy is the son of former Attorney General and New York Senator Robert F Kennedy, who was shot and killed while running for president in 1968, and the nephew of President John F Kennedy, who was killed in 1963.

Allies of Mr Biden appear worried about his candidacy and have attempted to block him from the ballot.

Mr Kennedy is also reported to have spoken to former Democratic Hawaii Rep Tulsi Gabbard, who has now left the party and has also been in discussions regarding Mr Trump’s possible VP picks. Other possible VP candidates for Mr Kennedy include Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and former presidential and New York mayor candidate Andrew Yang.

Puck News initially reported the contact between Mr Kennedy and Mr Yang.

But according to The New York Times, all have rejected the overtures or the conversations have not advanced further apart from with Mr Ventura and Rodgers. The paper also noted that the domain name kennedyrodgers.com was registered last week.

In 2021, Rodgers auditioned to become the new host of Jeopardy! even as he was still playing in the NFL.

The New York Jets is owned by Woody Johnson, a top Trump donor and his ambassador to the UK between 2017 and 2021.