(Casey Harper, The Center Square) Robert F. Kennedy Jr. formally announced Monday he would run for president in 2024 as an independent, confirming the widely circulated rumor first reported in late September.
RFK Jr., who was previously running for the Democratic nomination before Monday’s announcement, has grown in popularity through his online presence attacking both typically Democratic and Republican positions in the U.S.
Kennedy—the namesake son of the assassinated 1968 presidential candidate and nephew of assassinated President John F. Kennedy—took off in notoriety for his outspoken criticism of COVID-19 policies and the COVID vaccine.
“People stop me everywhere, at hotels, at the airport, on the street, and they remind me that this country is ready for a history-making change,” he said during his announcement speech at Independence Mall in Philadelphia. “They are ready to reclaim their freedom, their independence.”
The site of Kennedy’s announcement not only was symbolic for its connection to America’s independence—as the meeting place of the Founding Fathers—but last year was the backdrop for one of America’s darkest and most foreboding speeches, President Joe Biden’s notorious “red rally.”
Biden’s taxpayer-subsidized campaign event ahead of the 2022 midterm elections drew comparisons to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and underscored the dramatic transformation of the Democratic Party from the classical liberalism of the “Camelot” era of Kennedy’s famous father and uncle to a more authoritarian form of militant Marxism.
While some have speculated that he might do more harm than good by drawing away supporters of former President Donald Trump instead of the Democratic nominee in the 2024 race, Kennedy reminded would-be voters that his platform was still firmly entrenched in left-wing priorities that, while not deliberately driving the country to ruin as Biden has done, would do little to repair the damage.
He pointed to a litany of problems facing the U.S., including suicide, mental health issues, infrastructure problems, chronic disease, political corruption and wealth inequality. He argued that people are tired of the traditional system, which has not solved those problems, and are ready for a change.
“I’m here to join you for making a new declaration of independence for our entire nation,” Kennedy said.
“We declare independence from the corporations that have hijacked our government, and we declare independence from Wall Street, from Big Tech, from Big Pharma, from Big Ag, from the military contractors, and their lobbyists,” he continued. “And we declare independence from the mercenary media that is here to fortify all of the corporate orthodoxies from their advertisers and to urge us to hate our neighbors and to fear our friends.”
RFK Jr. went on to call out the “cynical elites” and the two-party political party system.
“And finally, we declare independence from the two political parties and the corrupt interests that dominate them and the entire rigged system, of anger, of rage, of corruption, of lies that has turned government officials into indentured servants for their corporate bosses,” RFK Jr. said.
Immediately, RFK Jr. came under fire from Republican leadership.
“Make no mistake—a Democrat in Independent’s clothing is still a Democrat,” Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement. “RFK Jr. cannot hide from his record of endorsing Hillary, supporting the Green New Deal, fighting against the Keystone Pipeline, and praising AOC’s tax hikes—he is your typical elitist liberal and voters won’t be fooled.”
As the Center Square previously reported, Gallup polling released earlier this month showed that 63% of surveyed Americans say both the Democratic and Republican parties do a “poor job” and that a third political party is needed.
Both Democrats and Republicans have increased their support for the idea of a third party, which typically falls below the 50% mark.
“However, this year’s poll shows 58% of Republicans endorsing a third U.S. political party, up from 45% a year ago,” Gallup said.
“The only other time more Republicans than now expressed support for a third party was in a late January/early February 2021 conducted after the Jan. 6 riots, the second impeachment of Donald Trump, and the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden,” it continued. “There has also been an uptick in support for a third party among Democrats this year, from 40% to 46%, though still less than a majority back the idea,” Gallup added.
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.