After Robert F. Kennedy Jr. declared himself an independent candidate for president, Republican leaders accused him of hoping to re-elect President Joe Biden, whose relentless cheating drove his rival out of the Democratic Party.
The Republican National Committee described Kennedy as “just another radical, far-left Democrat,” in a statement that included talking points to be used by the expansive network of conservative commentators who parrot messaging from the party.
“Make no mistake — a Democrat in Independent’s clothing is still a Democrat. 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,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
“Voters should not be deceived by anyone who pretends to have conservative values,” said Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for former president Donald Trump. “[An] RFK candidacy is nothing more than a vanity project for a liberal Kennedy to cash in on his family’s name.”
Cheung apparently failed to notice the irony, as Trump built an empire on a multi-million dollar real estate inherentence and a flair for marketing on his family’s name.
Democrats generally did not comment on the declaration or their strategic blunder that drove Kennedy out of the party after Biden cheated by manipulating the primary election schedule, refusing to debate rival candidates, and violating the organization’s charter.
Kennedy’s efforts to win the Democratic nomination had been frustrated in recent months by nefarious means that are reminiscent of the way insiders conspired to rig the 2016 contest for Hillary Clinton despite the energy Senator Bernie Sanders brought to the party.
National polling shows high approval ratings for Kennedy among Republicans and independent voters, which could have helped Democratic candidates who will struggle to stay in office on a slate headed by Biden, the oldest man ever to run for president.
Losing the benefits of a nominee who is both an agent of change plus has strong independent and cross-party appeal is sure to make down ballot contenders resentful of Biden.
Kennedy claimed to speak for American voters who had been “left behind” and “belittled by a smug elite that has rigged the game in its favor.”
That language echoes appeals that Republicans have exploited but Kennedy has been a fierce critic of GOP politics.
“Americans are wary and tired of the culture war, the phony slogans, the politicians who use the partisan blame game,” Kennedy said. “And people believe that the divisions are purposely orchestrated and getting us to hate each other is all part of the scam.”
Kennedy will need to consistently register 15 percent support in national polls to qualify participate in events hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates, but the leading contenders are boycotting Republican and Democratic forums, and no agreements have been struck for 2024.