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POLITIFACT

Fact-check: Trump claims on RFK Jr.鈥檚 positions on voter ID, the NRA and affirmative action

Amy Sherman
PolitiFact.com
Donald Trump

Statement: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. called voter ID 鈥渞acist,鈥 calls NRA a 鈥渢errorist organization鈥 and supports affirmative action.

Amid independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.鈥檚 frequent appearances on conservative news, former President Donald Trump has taken notice. Trump, a Republican, said that a vote for Kennedy is a听and that the third-party candidate is听听than anyone running as a Democrat."

Trump was echoing the sentiment of听, a website of the MAGA Inc. political action committee. The Trump campaign made similar statements about Kennedy鈥檚 past positions in a听.听

"RFK Jr. is a Radical Left Democrat," the Trump campaign account said.

The campaign听then said that Kennedy:

  • Called voter ID "racist"
  • Calls the National Rifle Association a "terror organization"
  • Supports affirmative action

The Trump campaign also pointed to Kennedy鈥檚 past support of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and that he "praised" Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator who ran for president as a Democrat. In July 2016, Kennedy听听and called himself a听, Clinton鈥檚 primary rival. Kennedy said in 2023 that听.听

Kennedy launched his presidential campaign in 2023 as a Democrat, but months later said he would run as an independent. He has taken some policy positions aligned with the right and frequently gives听.

With Kennedy鈥檚 past embrace of Democratic leaders well documented. we wanted to explore the Trump campaign鈥檚 claims about his past positions. The statements about Kennedy鈥檚 positions on voter ID, the NRA and affirmative action missed some context.

In 2008, Kennedy called voter ID racist

Nearly two decades ago, Kennedy was critical of听 laws requiring voters to present ID.

In an October 2008 interview with听, Kennedy said voter ID was discriminatory.

"In other words, Democratic voters," Kennedy said. "One in 5 Democratic 鈥 1 in 5 Black voters does not have a driver's license. That means if you require a driver's license, you're getting rid of 20% of the Black voters in this country."

Kennedy also joined journalist Greg Palast to co-author听" a 2008 comic book that said听听were turned away from voting because their driver鈥檚 licenses were expired. The comic book referred to voter ID as a "racially rancid rule."

The book mentioned research about the disproportionate impact on Black voters who were less likely to have a driver鈥檚 license than white people. In a 2021 article, PolitiFact highlighted similar research conclusions, including by听.

, including how strictly they are applied and what forms of ID, photo or others, are accepted. Today, the majority of states require some type of voter ID. The trend over the past two decades has been听听听听听requirements.听

But in his current presidential campaign, Kennedy has not called voter ID laws racist.

听about voter ID and how his plan would address concerns about fraud and "illegal voting."听

Kennedy replied that "a lot of poor people, particularly people in cities who don't drive, don't have access to identification, and if we had voter ID laws, it would keep them from voting. So, it would keep a huge demographic of people from voting." Kennedy said providing a free ID could solve this problem and did not describe voter ID laws as racist.

In a听, Kennedy walked back his earlier comments more completely.

Watters: "You said voter ID was racist. Is that true?"

Kennedy: "Maybe. You know, look, I had a lot of positions. I went through an evolution like many people in this country. And you know, I said things years ago, I had positions years ago that I look back on and say that was not 鈥 there was nothing good about that. I think we 鈥 you know, listen, what I've said on the voter ID issue is that I'm going to issue voter passports 鈥 passport IDs to every American who can't afford them, that will end that issue."

"If free ID is made available, Mr. Kennedy is in favor of voter ID requirements to assure the public of election integrity," Stefanie Spear, a Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spokesperson, told PolitiFact.

Kennedy called the NRA a "terror group" in 2018

After the 2018 Parkland shooting, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. called the NRA a "terror group." But in 2023, he said on Fox 香港六合彩开奖直播, "I don鈥檛 consider the NRA a terror group."

In the aftermath of the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Kennedy described the NRA as terrorists.

: "Parkland students are right; the NRA is a terror group."

Two days earlier,听听about Marjory Stoneman Douglas, using the abbreviation MSD: "Let鈥檚 be honest. The NRA is as responsible for the MSD child murders as if they pulled the trigger. NRA has turned 2d Amendment into a suicide pact for our children. When do we deal with NRA?"

. The Kennedy campaign did not answer our question about why.

Kennedy walked back calling the NRA a "terror group" in an October 2023 interview with

Hannity: "Do you still believe the NRA is a terror group?"

Kennedy: "I support the Second Amendment, like I do all the amendments of the Constitution, and I'm not going to take people's ... "

Hannity: "I didn鈥檛 ask you if you support the Second Amendment. You called in 2018, you said, 'Parkland students are right, the NRA is a terror group.' Do you believe that?"

Kennedy: "I don鈥檛 consider the NRA a terror group."

Hannity: "Do you regret tweeting that in 2018?"

Kennedy: "Well, I don鈥檛 recall tweeting it in 2018. But if I did, as I said, Sean, I don鈥檛 consider them a terror group and I support the Second Amendment."

Spear, Kennedy鈥檚 campaign spokesperson, said Kennedy "has come to understand that the gun owners represented by the NRA have a legitimate viewpoint."

Kennedy spoke positively of affirmative action in 2023

In June 2023, the听听for colleges.

听on the day of the ruling: "Regarding the Supreme Court banning affirmative action in higher ed 鈥 I know many Americans feel that purely race-based decisions are unfair. However, this feeling misses important context. The effects of racist policies going back centuries are now self-perpetuating. Affirmative action understands this and uses race-based policies to undo the effects of racist policies. 鈥楥olor-blind鈥 admissions tend to favor those who are already in the circle of privilege. It favors those who grew up in affluent, educated households. Wouldn鈥檛 you like to invite in those who have been left out in the cold?"

Asked about Kennedy鈥檚 position about affirmative action, Spear said: "That tweet does not advocate affirmative action per se. It was intended to highlight the need to recognize the situation that affirmative action seeks to address. He believes we must find constitutionally sound and fair ways to address the legacy of centuries of racist practices that still affect the Black community."

When we asked Kennedy鈥檚 campaign for his current position on issues including affirmative action, Kennedy鈥檚 campaign sent us to听. The听听does not address affirmative action.

That page of Kennedy鈥檚 website calls for "increased trade school and college prep opportunities for our youth" and said "working on organic, healing farms will unlock significant assets to pay your way through college or learn a trade, start a small business or put a down payment on a home.

PolitiFact's ruling

A Trump campaign X post said Kennedy Jr. called voter ID "racist," calls NRA a "terrorist organization" and supports affirmative action.听

The Trump campaign was careful and used the past tense "called" 鈥 a reference to Kennedy鈥檚 statements in 2008 in which he spoke about voter ID as racially discriminatory. But during his presidential campaign, Kennedy has talked about voter ID differently by stating he wants the government to provide free ID.

In 2018, Kennedy called the NRA a "terror group" but in 2023 he said, "I don鈥檛 consider the NRA a terror group."

In 2023, he made statements in support of affirmative action.

Overall, the Trump statement is partially accurate but is missing context, including about more recent statements that he made about voter ID and the NRA.

We rate this statement Half True.

Our sources

  • Trump campaign,听听May 2, 2024
  • Former President Donald Trump,听, April 26, 2024
  • Former President Donald Trump,听, April 28, 2024
  • MAGA Inc.,听, Accessed May 6, 2024
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr.,听, Feb. 17, 2018
  • Uncensored 香港六合彩开奖直播,听, July 31, 2023听
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr,听听June 29, 2023
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast,听, 2008
  • Greg Palast,, Sept. 26, 2012
  • Yahoo,听and, July 13, 2016
  • Fox 香港六合彩开奖直播 Jesse Watters,听, Aug 29, 2023
  • Fox 香港六合彩开奖直播 Jesse Watters,听听May 1, 2024
  • Fox 香港六合彩开奖直播,听, April 22, 2024
  • Fox 香港六合彩开奖直播,听, Oct. 10, 2023
  • Matt Barreto, University of Washington听, January 2009
  • The Bulwark,听听April 9, 2024
  • Politico,听, May 1, 2024
  • NBC 香港六合彩开奖直播,Oct. 21, 2008
  • PolitiFact,听, Aug. 9, 2021
  • PolitiFact,听听July 7, 2023
  • Email interview, 听Stefanie Spear, Robert F. Kennedy spokesperson, May 6-7, 2024
  • Email interview, Alex Pfeiffer, MAGA Inc. spokesperson, May 7, 2024