Robert F. Kennedy Jr launched his bid for the Oval Office Monday, as he parted ways with the Democrats and joined the presidential election fray as an independent candidate, indicating the intensification of the competition for the White House.

“I’ve come here today to declare our independence from the tyranny of corruption which robs us of affordable lives, our belief in the future and our respect for each other,” the son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of John F. Kennedy told supporters in Philadelphia.

“But to do that, I must first declare my own independence: Independence from the Democratic Party, from all other political parties.”

Long regarded as a person spreading disinformation such as his anti-vaccine campaign,  Kennedy Jr is likely to axe former President Donald Trump’s voter base.

It is stated that the main competitors of the 2024 presidential polls will be Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

But in a tight race, a third-party candidate siphoning even a few votes from the 80-year-old Biden in battleground states could be bad news for the Democrat.

Analysts also state that a long-time spreader of misinformation about public health and a darling of the right-wing US media would take more votes away from the Republican forerunner.

The 69-year-old former environmental lawyer has long identified as a Democrat and invoked his assassinated father in an anecdote about the 1968 campaign trail.

“I haven’t made this decision lightly. It’s very painful for me to let go of the party of my uncles, my father, my grandfather and both of my great-grandfathers,” he added.

But he has proved more popular among Republicans than Democrats in opinion polling and was languishing on an average of less than 15% in major primary polls — 47 points behind Biden.

Embraced by conspiracy theorists on the far right such as Alex Jones and Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, Kennedy has claimed that AIDS might not be caused by HIV and that wifi causes cancer and a “leaky brain.”

He has blamed antidepressants for school shootings and said chemicals in tap water could make children become transgender.

He ignited a firestorm of criticism in July over claims that Covid-19 was “ethnically targeted” at Caucasians and Black people, while Ashkenazi Jews and the Chinese were spared.

Last week, liberal academic Cornel West ended his Green Party candidacy in favour of an independent run. Many Biden allies see the 70-year-old African-American philosopher as a bigger threat than Kennedy.

Four of Kennedy’s siblings nevertheless released a statement calling his announcement “dangerous” and “deeply saddening.”

“Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgment,” they said.

Republicans called Kennedy a “Democrat in Independent’s clothing.”

“He is your typical elitist liberal and voters won’t be fooled,” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.


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2023-10-10

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