Longtime environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has announced that he will enter the presidential race as an independent, abandoning his Democratic primary campaign. This development adds complexity to the 2024 election, which was anticipated to feature a rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
Kennedy, hailing from a renowned Democratic political dynasty, was pursuing a challenging path in the Democratic primary. Surprisingly, he enjoyed more favorable ratings among Republicans than Democrats.
However, it remains uncertain whether this GOP support will carry over into the general election, where Kennedy will also face Trump. Supporters of both Biden and Trump have, at times, raised concerns about Kennedy potentially disrupting their respective campaigns.
Biden’s supporters have largely downplayed Kennedy’s primary campaign, considering it lacking in seriousness. When questioned about his potential independent candidacy, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee responded with a rolling-eyes emoji.
For weeks, Kennedy has been alleging that the DNC has unfairly manipulated the party’s primary to work against him, and he has hinted at exploring other options.
Surveys indicate that Kennedy has garnered backing from certain far-right conservatives due to his unconventional beliefs, particularly his outspoken skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines.
The Independent candidate expressed his growing discontent with the Democratic Party in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter, stating that his frustration intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. He pointed out that Democrats appeared more inclined than Republicans to implement measures like lockdowns and mandates.
Kennedy wrote, “Like many of you, my disaffection with the Democratic Party accelerated during Covid when it showed itself even more willing than the Republicans to suspend free speech, lock us down, surveil us and force mandates down our throats.”
He continued, “My views on many issues have evolved over my 40 years in public life, and especially over the last five years. We certainly don’t want leaders who flip-flop according to political convenience. But we also don’t want rigid ideologues whose minds are closed to change. Today, I share some views with Democrats and some with Republicans. Some of my positions are liberal; some are conservative. And many don’t fit into any category at all.”
News flash! My views on many issues have evolved over my 40 years in public life, and especially over the last five years. The Republicans are digging into statements I made 5, 10, 20 years ago to paint me as an orthodox liberal.
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) October 20, 2023