Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Run for President as Independent, Leaving Democratic Primary

Times postOct 16, 20233
facebook Tweet instagram

Republicans attacked Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Monday as the longtime environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist launched an independent bid for the White House, reflecting growing concerns on the right that the former Democrat now threatens to take votes from former President Donald Trump in 2024. The Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign both took aim at Kennedy’s liberal background while national Democrats stayed silent as Kennedy insisted in a speech in Philadelphia that he was leaving both political parties behind.

“Voters should not be deceived by anyone who pretends to have conservative values,” said Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung in a statement. He labeled Kennedy’s campaign “nothing more than a vanity project for a liberal Kennedy looking to cash in on his family’s name.”

The fiery response exposes the unknowns that lie in Kennedy’s long-anticipated decision to run as an independent. The move is likely to impact the 2024 race, which appears to be heading toward a rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden, but it’s still unclear exactly how.

Mr. Kucinich’s departure came a surprise even to Mr. Kennedy’s press secretary, who was informed of it on Friday afternoon by a New York Times reporter. In a subsequent news release, Mr. Kennedy said his campaign had “benefited enormously from the political experience of Dennis Kucinich.” Mr. Kucinich was not quoted in the release.

Ms. Kennedy has already been on the campaign payroll, according to the campaign’s financial report covering the three-month period ending Sept. 30, which was filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

In the message to campaign staff members sent earlier on Friday, Mr. Kucinich praised the work of the “powerful team” that was ready to take the campaign in a “new direction.” He added: “That patriotic goal is within sight, and I urge each of you to hold fast