The scion of the Kennedy family is a known Covid-19 vaccine skeptic
WASHINGTON—Antivaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed paperwork Wednesday to run for president as a Democrat in a long-shot bid against President Biden.
Mr. Kennedy, son of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, declared his candidacy by filing a statement with the Federal Election Commission. He joins self-help author and activist Marianne Williamson in a 2024 Democratic field that is unlikely to include any major challengers to Mr. Biden.
Mr. Kennedy will officially announce his candidacy at an April 19 event in Boston, his campaign said.
A White House spokesman declined to comment. Although he hasn’t formally launched his re-election campaign, Mr. Biden has repeatedly said he intends to seek a second term.
Mr. Kennedy, 69 years old, is a former environmental lawyer who has spent more than a decade pushing antivaccine conspiracy theories. He led a campaign casting doubt on Covid-19 vaccines and in 2021 saw his account removed by Instagram as part of Facebook’s and later its parent company Meta Plaforms Inc.’s efforts to crack down on false and misleading information about the virus.
Filings with charity regulators showed his antivaccine group, Children’s Health Defense, more than doubled its revenue to $6.8 million in 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr. Kennedy also released a book in 2021, “The Real Anthony Fauci,” in which he accused Mr. Biden’s former chief medical adviser of helping lead “a historic coup d’état against Western democracy.”
Mr. Kennedy has also pushed claims debunked by public-health experts linking childhood vaccinations to autism. Some members of his family have publicly rejected his views. Kerry Kennedy, Mr. Kennedy’s sister, dubbed his work “completely wrong” and “dangerous” in a 2021 interview.
Mr. Kennedy said on Twitter in March, “If I run, my top priority will be to end the corrupt merger between state and corporate power that has ruined our economy, shattered the middle class, polluted our landscapes and waters, poisoned our children, and robbed us of our values and freedoms.”
RFK Jr. is running for PRESIDENT: JFK’s anti-vaccine activist nephew officially announces he will challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024
‘My top priority will be to end the corrupt merger between state and corporate power that has ruined our economy, shattered the middle class, polluted our landscapes and waters, poisoned our children, and robbed us of our values and freedoms.’
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is officially challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination.
Kennedy, 69, filed a statement of candidacy Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, according to the Associated Press.
He’s the son of the late Attorney General and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in California in 1968 during a run for the presidency. Kennedy is the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in 1963.
This Kennedy has made a name for himself by being a prominent anti-vaxxer.
He joins spiritual guru Marianne Williamson in the not-so-crowded Democratic presidential field.
Biden has yet to officially announce a reelection campaign but has indicated he does plan to run for a second term.
This will not mark the first time someone from the Kennedy clan challenged a sitting Democratic president.
The late Sen. Ted Kennedy took on President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980.
Carter was plagued by low approval ratings and a sluggish economy.
Biden has had to deal with his own lackluster approval numbers and has had to rebuild the economy after it tumbled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, Kennedy started teasing a presidential bid.
‘If it looks like I can raise the money and mobilize enough people to win, I’ll jump in the race,’ he tweeted at the time. ‘If I run, my top priority will be to end the corrupt merger between state and corporate power that has ruined our economy, shattered the middle class, polluted our landscapes and waters, poisoned our children, and robbed us of our values and freedoms.’
But more than 15 years ago, he became fixated on a belief that vaccines are not safe. He emerged as one of the leading voices in the anti-vaccine movement, and his work has been described by public health experts and even members of his own family as misleading and dangerous.
Kennedy had been long involved in the anti-vaccine movement, but the effort intensified after the pandemic and development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
His anti-vaccine charity, Children’s Health Defense, prospered at the time, with revenues more than doubling in 2020 to $6.8 million, according to filings made with charity regulators.
His organization has targeted false claims at groups that may be more prone to distrust the vaccine, including mothers and black Americans, experts have said, which could have resulted in deaths during the pandemic.
Kennedy released a book in 2021, The Real Anthony Fauci, in which he accused the U.S.´s top infectious disease doctor of assisting in ‘a historic coup d’etat against Western democracy’ and promoted unproven COVID-19 treatments such as ivermectin, which is meant to treat parasites, and the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
His push against the COVID-19 vaccine has linked him at times with anti-democratic figures and groups.
Kennedy has appeared at events pushing the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and with people who cheered or downplayed the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
A photo posted on Instagram showed Kennedy backstage at a July 2021 Reawaken America event with former President Donald Trump’s ally Roger Stone, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and anti-vaccine profiteer Charlene Bollinger.
All three have promoted the lie about the 2020 election being stolen.
The photo was posted but later removed by Bollinger, who has appeared with Kennedy at multiple events.
She and her husband sponsored an anti-vaccine, pro-Trump rally near the Capitol on January 6.
Bollinger celebrated the attack and her husband tried to enter the Capitol.
Kennedy later appeared in a video for their Super PAC.