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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Unaffiliated Presidential Bid Elicits Censure from GOP, No Comment from National Democrats

by Michael Nguyen
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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Independent Presidential Run

On Monday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. initiated his campaign for the U.S. presidency as an independent candidate, prompting immediate reproach from Republican circles. The Republicans perceive Kennedy, a former Democrat and long-standing environmental lawyer who has garnered attention for his anti-vaccine stances, as a potential threat to divert votes from former President Donald Trump in the upcoming 2024 election.

Both the Republican National Committee and Trump’s own campaign launched criticisms against Kennedy’s progressive leanings. Meanwhile, national Democratic leaders maintained a conspicuous silence. In a Philadelphia address, Kennedy asserted that he was distancing himself from both major political parties.

Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Donald Trump, issued a statement cautioning voters against being “misled by anyone feigning conservative principles.” He described Kennedy’s electoral bid as “merely a self-indulgent endeavor by a Kennedy seeking to capitalize on the family name.”

Kennedy’s unexpected choice to run as an unaffiliated candidate adds an element of unpredictability to the 2024 race, which is increasingly appearing to be a second showdown between Trump and current President Joe Biden. The exact implications of Kennedy’s decision, however, remain uncertain.

Kennedy, who hails from a family deeply rooted in Democratic politics, was engaged in an improbable primary campaign and interestingly enjoys greater favorability among Republicans than Democrats. Even Trump recently commended Kennedy, noting, “I have a high regard for him; we’ve been acquaintances for years.”

Both Biden and Trump allies have sporadically speculated about Kennedy serving as a disruptive force against their respective candidates. Kennedy affirmed these concerns, declaring, “They’re both correct. My aim is to thwart both of their chances.”

Delivering his address from Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, a location historically significant for the founding of the United States, Kennedy spoke about the “growing wave of dissatisfaction” within the nation and expressed his desire to issue a “new proclamation of independence” from corporations, the media, and the two dominant political parties.

Supporters, a diverse group ranging from disenchanted Democrats to change-seeking Trump voters and independent thinkers, appeared enthusiastic about Kennedy’s decision. Many hold the belief that Kennedy could serve as a unifying force in current U.S. politics.

However, Kennedy’s fledgling campaign faces an uphill battle in terms of fundraising, public backing, and institutional experience, especially when compared to the extensive resources available to the Trump and Biden campaigns.

Kennedy’s entry into the race comes shortly after progressive activist Cornel West also declared an independent candidacy, leaving behind his previous association with the Green Party. Additionally, the centrist organization No Labels is in the process of securing ballot access for an unidentified candidate.

Fearing Kennedy’s potential to siphon off Republican votes, allies of Trump have initiated efforts to distribute research aimed at discrediting him among potential conservative supporters.

Democratic leadership, for its part, has been dismissive of Kennedy’s aspirations, offering no official commentary. His decision has even led to public disapproval from four of his eight surviving siblings, who issued a joint statement condemning his campaign as perilous for the nation.

Kennedy, despite historically identifying as a Democrat and frequently invoking the legacies of his late father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, has cultivated ties with far-right figures in recent years. Polls indicate that he enjoys greater favorability among Republicans than Democrats, partially due to his contentious views, including skepticism towards COVID-19 vaccines.

Kennedy’s organization, Children’s Health Defense, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit against several media organizations, alleging violations of antitrust laws related to efforts to identify misinformation, including about COVID-19 and its vaccines. Kennedy has taken a leave of absence from the organization following his presidential campaign announcement.

This report was contributed to by Big Big News writers Jill Colvin, Michelle Smith, and Will Weissert.

Big Big News is funded by several private foundations aimed at amplifying its explanatory coverage of electoral processes and democratic institutions. Editorial responsibility for the content resides solely with the AP.

(Note: This is a fictional scenario. As of my last update in January 2022, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had not announced a run for the U.S. presidency.)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Independent Presidential Run

What is the main topic of the text?

The main topic of the text is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s announcement that he will run for the U.S. presidency in 2024 as an independent candidate. The text explores the immediate reactions from both Republican and Democratic circles, as well as the potential impact on the 2024 election.

Who are the main political figures discussed?

The main political figures discussed are Robert F. Kennedy Jr., former President Donald Trump, and current President Joe Biden.

How have Republicans reacted to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s decision?

Republicans have reacted critically to Kennedy’s decision to run as an independent. Both the Republican National Committee and Donald Trump’s campaign have launched criticisms against Kennedy, cautioning voters that he is not a true conservative and labeling his campaign as a “self-indulgent endeavor.”

How have Democrats reacted to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s announcement?

Democrats have largely remained silent regarding Kennedy’s announcement. There has been no official commentary from Democratic leadership, although four of Kennedy’s eight surviving siblings issued a joint statement condemning his campaign.

What potential impact could Kennedy’s run have on the 2024 presidential election?

Kennedy’s independent run adds an element of unpredictability to the 2024 presidential election. While the precise implications remain uncertain, both Trump and Biden camps have expressed concerns that Kennedy could act as a disruptive force, potentially drawing votes away from their respective candidates.

What are Kennedy’s political leanings?

Although Kennedy has historically identified as a Democrat and comes from a family deeply rooted in Democratic politics, he has increasingly cultivated ties with far-right figures. He has also expressed skepticism towards COVID-19 vaccines and has been critical of both major U.S. political parties.

Is Kennedy affiliated with any political organization?

Kennedy has taken a leave of absence from his organization, Children’s Health Defense, which is currently involved in a lawsuit against several media organizations. The suit alleges violations of antitrust laws related to efforts to identify misinformation, including about COVID-19 and its vaccines.

What other independent or third-party candidates are mentioned?

Progressive activist Cornel West is mentioned as having also declared an independent candidacy for the 2024 presidential race after leaving the Green Party. A centrist organization called No Labels is also in the process of securing ballot access for an unidentified candidate.

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