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The Biden White House and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — which some believe to be the enforcement arm of the Biden White House — have been aware of the presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for some time. First, since April 2023, when he announced his run for president in Boston as a Democrat challenging the incumbent. Next, with his switch to an independent candidate on Oct. 9, 2023, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

While aware of him, much of the Biden and DNC gameplan seemed to be either an attempt to ignore his budding candidacy or mock it in passing while falsely smearing Kennedy when possible. Now — and quite suddenly — that gameplan seems to have morphed into full attack mode against RFK Jr. Why?

Last week on X, Kennedy himself offered up a partial explanation: “You may have read that the DNC has now committed to investing a mountain of money trying to smear me … this is what happens when you dare to give Americans a choice. The DNC wanted a coronation for President Biden. They never expected our movement to gain the kind of momentum it has.”

And then, this Wednesday, we have this from New York magazine, in a piece titled: “Democrats are Starting to take the RFK Jr. Threat Seriously.” Wrote journalist Gabriel Debenedetti: “In recent weeks, the Democratic National Committee has built a unit dedicated to monitoring and responding to third-party candidates … the overwhelming focus is now on Kennedy. And that means that opposition research — the efficacy of which has often been questioned at the presidential level in an age that’s redefined political dirt — is once again part of the equation.”

Some of the Democrats I speak with believe the fear of Kennedy runs much deeper. To Kennedy’s point, they do believe his movement is taking much deeper root far off the radar screens of a mainstream media that refuses to cover him as well as those of the candidates of the two major parties.

Because he has been essentially blackballed by much of the mainstream media, Kennedy and his team have engaged in a powerful “get out the message” guerilla warfare media campaign by appearing on many of the most popular podcasts in the nation. Be it Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson, Jordan Peterson, the Chief Nerd or others, Kennedy — and his collective message — is now regularly being received by millions of Americans every week.

Keep in mind that the combined viewership of the broadcast network evening news programs averages about 18 million. Rogan’s podcast alone has surpassed 50 million streams multiple times, and Carlson’s as well. Kennedy has the potential to dwarf the viewership of the mainstream media while pounding home a message that seems to speak to many.

Team Biden and the DNC realize that the president seems to be losing more ground by the week. More than that, they also understand that presidential elections are won by shaving an eighth of a percent off of one district, a quarter of a percent off of one county and half of a percent off of one major city. To them, Kennedy’s razor surely appears to be getting larger and sharper by the day.

Team Biden also realizes — as outlined by a recent Quinnipiac poll — that Kennedy leads both Biden and Trump nationwide among voters under 35. More worrisome for them is that Kennedy leads among independents as well — a demographic that now constitutes the largest political bloc in the U.S.

Next on the list of things keeping Team Biden and the DNC up at night is Kennedy’s vice-presidential running mate, which he is expected to announce this Tuesday in Oakland, California. As highlighted on this site earlier in the week, there is growing speculation that Kennedy’s pick will be lawyer, investor and philanthropist Nicole Shanahan. The 38-year-old, Asian American, California-based Shanahan is — among other things — the founder and president of Bia-Echo Foundation, a nonprofit that issues grants for issues including reproductive rights, equality, criminal justice reform and the environment.

The former wife of Google cofounder Sergey Brin, she is seen as dynamic, highly intelligent and aligned with Kennedy on virtually every issue. And, from the perspective of Team Biden and the DNC, she is someone fully capable of speaking to, bonding with and peeling off younger voters, female voters, minority voters and the disenfranchised.

We will know Kennedy’s pick for his running mate soon. But until then, one thing has become crystal clear. Kennedy’s campaign has the Biden White House and the DNC in a panic.

Back in 2016, outsider Donald Trump upended every laugh in his face, smear and conventional wisdom prediction of his doom. Team Biden and the DNC seem more fearful by the day that Kennedy can bottle that same lightning.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.

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