Some Democrats say that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a fringe candidate who spreads conspiracy theories. Others believe that a surge of early support for his 2024 presidential campaign signals discontent with President Joe Biden’s job performance and the incumbent’s prospects for reelection.
In the early stages of his campaign, Kennedy generated support from some independents, and some conservative and moderate Republicans, leading to speculation that he could run as a Republican or an independent.
Kennedy squashed that idea, telling The Epoch Times that “I am a Democrat,” which makes him an anomaly in today’s divisive political climate because most pundits agree that he is the candidate who appeals to the wide spectrum of voters.
He isn’t expected to get help from the Democratic National Committee, whose members voted at their winter meeting earlier this year to give Biden their full support. But he’s gotten support from an unlikely group of mega-influencers, including Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Joe Rogan.
That exposure, combined with the Kennedy-dynasty name recognition, may be part of the reason why RFK Jr. is maintaining a double-digit performance in the polls despite being all-but-blocked from the Democrat ballot by the DNC. But the strong showing may also be the result of a unique platform that taps into discontent with the establishment on both sides of the political divide.
Political strategists believe Kennedy is unlikely to secure the Democratic presidential nomination because the DNC backs Biden.
Dennis Kucinich, a longtime Democratic congressman from Ohio who ran for president twice and is now Kennedy’s campaign manager, believes Kennedy can “rebuild and save” the country, and that there is a path for victory over Biden.
“He is the only Democrat who can reach across the political spectrum, which means he can win in 2024,” Kucinich added. “Conservatives, liberals, independents, and libertarians are responding to this campaign because of the unique qualities of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and because there is an understanding he stands for unity, freedom, truth, and authenticity. That is what’s resonating with people.”
The door could stay open for Kennedy to keep building support at a time when Biden’s approval ratings are low, polls indicate many Americans are dissatisfied with the economy, and Trump is saddled with legal issues.
Shortly after Kennedy announced his candidacy in April, Steve Bannon said that he would likely finish third in a Republican primary behind former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if the election was held on that day.
Bannon is a former Trump advisor who said that Kennedy and Trump are the only relevant presidential candidates.
He added that Kennedy is “a very progressive, liberal Democrat and I’m a right-wing populist” but “any campaign that made a crusade of Wuhan lab, Tony Fauci, the pharmaceutical-industrial complex, and the vax and everything about vaccines, right, all the science and logic of it, would be something that would help the American people.”
Kennedy has also drawn praise from notable conservatives like Trump ally Gen. Michael Flynn and talk show host Tucker Carlson. Podcaster Joe Rogan conducted an in-depth interview with Kennedy and Elon Musk hosted him on Twitter Spaces. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey retweeted a video of Kennedy on the campaign trail and exclaimed that “he can and he will” beat Biden.
Even Trump has praised Kennedy, telling radio host Howie Carr that “he’s a common sense guy and so am I, so whether you’re conservative or liberal, common sense is common sense.”
Kennedy believes that he is the only Democrat who can beat Trump in a debate and has criticized the former president numerous times for COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns that he claims “cost our country $16 trillion” and “shifted $4 trillion in wealth from the middle class and the super-rich.”
Biden, Kennedy, and author Marianne Williamson are the only candidates seeking the Democratic nomination while the Republican field includes more than a dozen names headlined by Trump and DeSantis.
The Democratic party will do what it takes for Joe Biden to be nominated, Republican strategist Wes Farno believes, “but when you talk to most Americans, they want a candidate who will deliver results.”
“Vivek Ramaswamy is getting traction because he is talking about his platform and the issues. Kennedy is doing the same,” Farno noted. “I think there is a hunger for candidates to talk about issues.”
Kennedy has the highest net favorability of all 2024 presidential candidates, a recent poll from The Economist/YouGov reported.
The survey was conducted from June 10 to June 13 among 1,500 U.S. adults and had a 2.7-point margin of error. In it, Kennedy was viewed favorably by 49 percent of the respondents, which translates to a net favorability rating of 19 points. He was seen as unfavorable by 30 percent.
Biden and Trump, who is currently the frontrunner among Republican candidates, had 45 percent and 43 percent of the respondents view them in a favorable way.
Biden’s net favorability rating was minus 7 while Trump had a minus 10 net favorability rating.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has vocally supported Biden’s re-election bid, has been mentioned as a potential challenger to the president.
David Carlucci is a former New York state legislator and a Democratic strategist. He believes that Kennedy will not win any primary against Biden, and that high-profile Democrats have been reluctant to enter the race because they don’t want to “damage the party or their base.”
“The Democratic party is mostly unified about President Biden. The fear of another Trump administration is too great, and Democrats are putting aside their differences because Biden can beat Trump,” Carlucci said. “It would be damaging to a Democratic presidency and their own brand if other candidates get in the race.
At Odds With Some Democrats
An environmental attorney and the founder of Children’s Health Defense, Kennedy is widely known for his outspoken stances about the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccines to some in the population who were forced to take them, and of vaccines in general.
He differs from Biden and progressive Democrats on multiple issues.
Kennedy is one of only a few Democratic officials or candidates who have publicly signaled opposition to transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.
On the Second Amendment, he said, “I believe in the Constitution, and I’m not going to take everybody’s guns away.”
Earlier this month, he traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border and told The Epoch Times, “We have to seal our borders. No nation can exist If you don’t control [illegal] immigration.”
In a “peace” speech he delivered in New Hampshire last week, Kennedy called for de-escalation of the war in Ukraine and diplomacy with Russia.
On One-Issue Voters
Meanwhile, his stance on abortion is one that aligns with the Biden administration.
“I can argue there’s nobody in this country that has worked harder for the rights of medical freedom and personal bodily autonomy than me,” he said. “That applies to vaccines and abortion.
“I don’t think the government should be telling us what to do with our bodies and dictating for Americans what we can and cannot do in the first three months of pregnancy. It’s a woman’s choice,” he added.
“I respect people who have different points of view, and for people who say that ‘it’s the only issue that I care about,’ they will likely vote for someone else because of my beliefs,” he continued.
Kennedy called his campaign a “peaceful insurgency” that he said he hopes will appeal to conservative Republicans, independents, moderates, and liberal Democrats, adding that “I’m talking about issues that I think most Americans and probably most Democrats are concerned about, which is the systematic gutting of the middle class.”
Joseph Lord and Alice Giordano contributed to this report.