Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign has made a notable addition by hiring a former top spokesperson for prominent Republican candidates, who has notably described the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol as “Democrat misdirection.” The engagement of Zach Henry’s firm, Total Virality, which started in March, marks a significant strategy for Kennedy’s independent campaign. The firm was initially contracted for “influencer engagement” shortly after Republican Vivek Ramaswamy ended his presidential bid.

Zach Henry, previously Ramaswamy’s deputy communications director, has expressed controversial views on social media. For instance, he has dismissed the Capitol riot as not a MAGA insurrection but “just more Democrat misdirection,” suggesting that the event was influenced by left-wing AntiFA agitators rather than supporters of Donald Trump. Henry has also been critical of the House committee investigation into the attack, labeling it a “witch hunt of patriots.”

Campaign Controversies and Strategies

The hiring of Henry is part of Kennedy’s efforts to navigate the complex political landscape with his independent campaign, which has struggled to attract experienced political operatives. Henry’s alignment with libertarian-tinged conservative culture warriors like Ramaswamy, Masters, and Ward, and his provocative social media presence, align with a certain rebellious edge that Kennedy’s campaign seems to be cultivating.

This move, however, has not been without its controversies. For instance, Kennedy’s campaign had to disown a fundraising email that sympathetically referred to Jan. 6 defendants as victims of constitutional rights violations—an action Kennedy later stated was sent in “error” by a marketing contractor. Moreover, Kennedy’s own statements regarding the Jan. 6 event and his proposal to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the harsh treatment of defendants have stirred further debate.

Political Impact and Opposition

The addition of Henry comes at a time when both major parties are intensifying their criticism of Kennedy, viewing his candidacy as a potential spoiler in the upcoming election. While Trump and his allies try to paint Kennedy as a radical environmentalist, Democrats accuse him of indirectly aiding Trump by splitting the vote, highlighting his backing from some major conservative donors and his controversial positions on issues like Jan. 6.

Kennedy’s strategic hire of Zach Henry reflects a broader trend of political campaigns leveraging online influencers and unconventional tactics to appeal to voters. Henry’s role, combined with his controversial past statements and strategic acumen, underscores the dynamic and often contentious nature of modern American political campaigns.