RFK Jr. Drops Dem Bid, Runs As Independent

Veteran environmental lawyer and outspoken anti-vaccine advocate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., made a significant political pivot on Monday as he announced his independent bid for the presidency, abandoning his prior run in the Democratic primary.

Kennedy’s decision adds an intriguing twist to the unfolding 2024 race, which appears poised for a potential rematch between incumbent President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Kennedy, a descendant of the renowned Kennedy political dynasty, had been running a somewhat arduous and biased campaign within the Democratic primary.

Curiously, he enjoys higher favorability ratings among Republicans than within the democratic party. The question looming over his independent candidacy is whether GOP support will carry over into a general election where he would face off against Trump.

Speculation regarding the likelihood of Kennedy becoming a spoiler candidate has surfaced, potentially complicating matters for both Biden and Trump. So far, President Biden’s allies have largely dismissed Kennedy’s primary bid, with a Democratic National Committee spokesman responding to the news with a figurative eye roll.

On the day of his announcement, a crowd of hundreds of supporters gathered at Philadelphia’s historic Independence Mall, a fitting backdrop for a campaign launch. Campaign signs hinted at a potential slogan: “Declare your independence.” Among those rallying behind Kennedy were individuals who do not align with either major party.

They view him as a truth-teller and a breath of fresh air in the political arena. Julia Hill, a 23-year-old student from New Jersey, praised Kennedy for “telling it like it is” and not sounding like a typical politician. Others, like Brent Snyder, a disabled veteran from South Philadelphia, expressed a desire for change.

Snyder, who had previously voted for Trump, voiced concerns about the direction of the Republican Party and the need for someone to bridge the deep political divide in the country.

Kennedy’s decision to run as an independent comes shortly after progressive activist Cornel West abandoned his Green Party bid in favor of an independent run for the White House.

Additionally, the centrist group No Labels is actively working to secure ballot access for an as-yet-unnamed candidate. Kennedy has spent weeks accusing the DNC of bias in the Democratic primary process, arguing that they had stacked the deck against him.

He criticized the DNC for not hosting debates between Biden and other primary contenders and for giving South Carolina, rather than Iowa or New Hampshire, the leadoff spot on the primary calendar for this election cycle.

Notably, Kennedy has built relationships with far-right figures in recent years, appearing on platforms associated with figures like Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and participating in events like the ReAwaken America Tour organized by Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Polls indicate that Kennedy has more favorability among Republicans than Democrats. His outspoken skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines, despite scientific consensus on their safety and effectiveness, has earned him support from many conservatives and independents.