The conspiracy-pushing political scion who had previously been running as a Democrat is now staking out his own lane
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced in Philadelphia on Monday that he will launch an independent, third-party run for the presidency, abandoning his previous bid to topple President Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee.
“I’m here to declare myself an independent candidate for president of the United States,” he said to cheers from the crowd, before listing off everything America needs to “declare independence” from, including the two political parties and their corruption.
Kennedy — the son of former Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of John F. Kennedy — initially entered the race as a Democrat, garnering some support among the party’s voters but coming nowhere close to threatening Biden’s hold on the nomination. The political scion said he no longer wants anything to do with his family’s party. “I am announcing my independence from the Democratic Party,” he said before comparing himself to the Founding Fathers.
The split could be because of what Kennedy perceives as corruption, or the fact that his affinity for conspiracy theories, including outlandish claims about vaccinations and 9/11 skepticism, soured his position with Democratic voters. It garnered him praise, however, from right-wing political figures and commentators, and he was even announced last week as a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Kennedy’s near-constant presence within right-wing media circles, alliances with conservative lawmakers and public figures seeking to delegitimize the Biden administration, and funding ties to Republican mega-donors have skyrocketed his approval among conservative voters while reportedly giving Donald Trump’s team concern that an independent could run eat into the former president’s support in a matchup with Biden.
Kennedy is well aware of the impact he could have on Trump’s chances. In a recent interview with the right-wing This Past Weekend podcast, he theorized that he takes “more votes from President Trump than […] from President Biden.” It’s unclear if this will wind up being the case, but his announcement on Monday certainly positions him to have a far greater impact on the race than he would have if he were only running a doomed bid to unseat Biden.