PHILADELPHIA – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced Monday that he will run for president as an independent, abandoning his bid to challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic Party nomination.
Kennedy, the son and namesake of a slain former U.S. senator and presidential candidate, unveiled his new approach at an early afternoon rally for supporters at Independence Mall in Philadelphia, a location he chose because of its proximity to the country’s founding site.
“People everywhere stop me… and they remind me that this country is ready for historic change. They are ready to regain their freedom – their independence!” he declared to a cheering crowd. “And that’s why I’m here today – I’m here to declare myself an independent candidate for president.”
Kennedy further outlined how his ideologically heterodox campaign, focused on bridging the partisan divide, would declare “independence” from the corrupting influence of corporations, the “mercenary” media, the “cynical elites” and, of course, the two-party system.
As the Democratic nominee, Kennedy, an environmental lawyer turned vaccine skeptic and conspiracy theorist, exceeded expectations with the significant support While he received approval in some polls, that support has increased diminished over time.
But the Democratic National Committee has refused to schedule debates between Biden and other Democratic candidates.
Kennedy too defendant New party rules make South Carolina the top primary state and penalize candidates who run in New Hampshire’s unauthorized primary, saying it has intensified the race against him. (The party openly stated these rules, but Kennedy made them further, unfounded claims about the DNC’s alleged plans to interfere in his bid.)
“So how can we win against established Washington interests?” Kennedy said in a video teases his Philadelphia rally. “It’s not about playing the game by the corrupt rules that the corrupt powers and self-interests have manipulated to keep us all in their thrall.”
Kennedy’s decision follows a similar move by left-wing academic and activist Cornel West, who announced on Thursday that he would run as an independent rather than fight for the Green Party’s presidential nomination. He said CNN that the Green Party nomination required too much internal party campaigning and that it was easier as an independent to get a place on the ballot in all 50 states.
Marianne Williamson, a self-help author and spiritual guru, remains in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. So far she has not achieved a breakthrough in the polls.
Unlike Williamson, however, Kennedy and West could both pull votes away from Biden in a general election.
Kennedy has held conventionally liberal views on climate change, racial justice and the welfare state while opposing the United States’ continued arming of Ukraine, the administration of a series of vaccines whose risks he said were concealed by Big Pharma and the government the closure of schools and other public places for public health reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kennedy has also expressed more conservative views than Biden on stopping unauthorized entry at the U.S. border, gun rights and the role of parents in decisions about their children’s gender transition.
As the Democratic nominee, Kennedy received much more attention – and better treatment – from right-wing media than from mainstream or liberal media. It’s unclear whether that will continue after he stops challenging Biden in the Democratic primary.
The Republican National Committee wasted no time in calling Kennedy a “typical elitist liberal” when Kennedy made the announcement Monday afternoon.
“Make no mistake – a Democrat dressed as an independent is still a Democrat,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “RFK Jr. can’t hide from his support of Hillary, support of the Green New Deal, fight against the Keystone pipeline, and praise of AOC’s tax hikes – he’s a typical elitist liberal and voters won’t be fooled. “
In a hypothetical general election matchup with Biden and former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the GOP primary, Kennedy would receive 14% of the vote, earning the support of both major party candidates, a report said Reuters/Ipsos poll that came out on Thursday.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.