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Robert F Kennedy Jr snubbed by his own family at 2024 presidential campaign launch

Noted conspiracy theorist has little chance of winning the Democratic presidential nomination

Andrew Feinberg
Wednesday 19 April 2023 23:09 BST
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(Robert F Kennedy Jr)

Anti-vaccine activist and conspiracy theorist Robert F Kennedy Jr has officially declared himself to be a candidate in next year’s Democratic presidential primary, ending a four-decade stretch of presidential elections without a member of his famous family on the ballot.

Mr Kennedy, the son of assassinated 1968 presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy and the nephew of assassinated president John F Kennedy, announced his candidacy in a long and winding speech in Boston alongside his wife, actress Cheryl Hines.

Notably absent from the event were any other members of America’s most famous Democratic political dynasty, which has sent members of the family to the House and Senate since the 1960s.

The environmental lawyer turned anti-vax crusader’s foray into presidential politics isn’t being made with the support of any of his numerous relations, many of whom have gone on record to condemn him and stress their support for President Joe Biden’s yet-to-be-declared re-election bid.

His years of public opposition to childhood vaccinations against communicable diseases — and his more recent advocacy against Covid-19 vaccines — has made him a pariah among Democrats and a superstar in extremist Republican circles, making his choice to run as a Democrat particularly puzzling to many experts.

Mr Kennedy noted his lack of family support in remarks tinged with more than a bit of sarcasm.

“There are other members of my family who are not here today,' the 69-year-old Kennedy scion said to laughs after giving shout-outs to the handful who were in the crowd. 'I know most American families - they never have any differences with each other,” he said.

He added that multiple members of the Kennedy clan disagree with his political views and have maintained “long personal relationships” with Mr Biden, but said he “love[s] them back” nonetheless.

Later in his rambling address, he hit out at Donald Trump – Mr Biden’s predecessor and the likely GOP nominee next year – for lending support to numerous public health measures aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19 during the earliest days of the pandemic.

“President Trump is blamed for a lot of things that he didn't do and that he gets blamed for some things that he didn't do,” Mr Kennedy said. “But it was the worst thing that he did to our country, to our civil rights, to our economy, to the middle class.”

He also took aim at the US health system and repeated discredited claims about the connection between childhood vaccines and autism while also pledging to “end the chronic disease epidemic”.

“If I don't significantly drop the level of chronic disease in our children after my first term, I do not want you to reelect me,” he said.

Though Mr Biden has not yet announced a re-election campaign, he has repeatedly said he intends to run for a second term next year.

The 46th president is widely expected to earn his party’s nomination, making it unlikely that Mr Kennedy will have a chance to be elected to a first term.

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