Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a well-known advocate for environmental causes and the offspring of a former senator, announced in Philadelphia that he’s withdrawing his Democratic Party presidential bid, opting instead to run as an independent candidate.
Kennedy positioned himself as a unifying figure, aiming to represent voters disheartened by the profound partisan divides and discord prevalent in the United States. He argued that these divisions hinder progress and prosperity for the nation.
People approach me everywhere – in airports, hotels, and on the streets. They emphasize that this country is on the cusp of a transformative change… Today, I stand before you to declare my candidacy as an independent, Kennedy proclaimed before a gathering of several hundred individuals in front of the National Constitution Center.
The American Values 2024, a super-PAC supporting Kennedy, disclosed a fundraising total of $17 million, according to co-founder Tony Lyons at the event. This represents an increase from the approximately $10 million reported in July. He anticipates an additional $10 million following this announcement.
Kennedy’s entry into the 2024 race introduces complexity to an election that appeared to be heading for a rematch between Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump, both of whom are viewed unfavorably by significant segments of the American populace.
In response to their brother’s candidacy, Kennedy’s siblings – Kerry Kennedy, Rory Kennedy, and Joseph Kennedy II – released a statement on Monday: “Bobby may bear our father’s name, but he does not share his values, vision, or discernment. Today’s announcement deeply saddens us.”
Kennedy’s campaign touts a combination of well-supported backers, a well-known name, and a lack of fervor for either Trump or Biden, potentially granting it considerable influence, as suggested by political strategists. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll indicates he could attract support from about one in seven U.S. voters, possibly drawing votes from both Biden and Trump. While third-party candidates have historically faced challenges in winning U.S. presidential races, they have often played a substantial role in determining the ultimate victor.
At a recent Democratic National Committee gathering in St. Louis, opinions on Kennedy’s candidacy ranged from dismissal to concern. Ken Martin, head of Minnesota’s Democratic Party, remarked, “Aside from his name, what qualifications does he bring? He contradicts his family’s legacy. It’s rather disappointing.” Others urged caution, with Charles Wilson, chair of Washington DC’s Democratic Party, emphasizing the significance of each vote in what is expected to be a tightly contested race.
Many Democrats also pointed out the obstacles independent candidates encounter in securing spots on general election ballots in numerous states, often necessitating the collection of tens of thousands of signatures.
The challenge is formidable. The major parties have effectively obstructed third-party candidates from gaining ballot access, noted Diane Sare, an independent U.S. Senate candidate from New York who was present at Kennedy’s announcement.
Requests for comments from the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee went unanswered.
Brian Noble, a 42-year-old Army veteran who served during the Iraq war, has become disillusioned with U.S. politics. Though he voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, he has abstained from subsequent elections. Noble is so invested in Kennedy’s candidacy that he traveled from Alabama to attend Monday’s announcement.
I believe he speaks the truth, affirmed Noble.