PHILADELPHIA—Within view of where the first and only independent candidate to win the American presidency helped establish the new country’s government, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stood in front of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Oct. 9 and told supporters he believes he will take a similar path to the White House.
“Today, we are turning a new page in American politics,” Mr. Kennedy said after making the expected announcement that he will run for president as an independent in the 2024 election and depart the Democratic Party’s primary.
“There have been independent candidates before. But this time is different. This time, the independent is going to win,” Mr. Kennedy said.
“Three-fourths of Americans believe President Biden is too old to govern effectively. President Trump faces multiple civil and criminal trials. Both have favorability ratings deep in negative territory,” he said. “That is what two-party politics has given us, and that is why we need to pry loose the hammerlock of corrupt power over Washington D.C. and make this nation ours again.”
George Washington, America’s first president, is the only candidate to run for office as an independent and win. President Washington opposed the development of political parties, fearing that partisanship would eventually destroy the country. Mr. Kennedy referenced President Washington’s 1796 farewell address.
“Inevitably, he said, political parties will be taken over by a cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled minority who will serve the interests of the party rather than the interests of the nation and usurp for themselves the reins of government,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Washington’s dire prediction has certainly come true. I intend to wrest the reins from both parties and return them to the American people.”
During his address on Oct. 9, Mr. Kennedy told an enthusiastic audience that he has “declared independence from the two political parties and the corrupt interests that dominate them, and the entire rigged system of rancor and rage, corruption and lies, that has turned government officials into indentured servants of their corporate bosses. If left unchecked, they will commoditize our air, water, food, labor, and children, and turn the American Dream into desperation and dust.”
“I declared my independence from these corrupting powers because they are incompatible with the inalienable rights that our original Declaration of Independence invoked in 1776: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Mr. Kennedy added, after including “the mercenary media, cynical elites,” corporations that have hijacked the government, Wall Street, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Ag, and military contractors and their lobbyists in the list of entities from which he is separating.
Mr. Kennedy admitted that declaring his independence from the Democratic Party was a decision that wasn’t made lightly.
“It is painful for me to let go of the party of my uncles, my father, of my grandfather, and of both of my great-grandfathers—John ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald, Boston’s first Irish Catholic mayor, and Patrick Kennedy, a Boston ward boss—who, together, launched my family’s political dynasty more than a century ago,” Mr. Kennedy explained.
“But my sacrifice is nothing compared to the risk our founding fathers took when they signed the Declaration of Independence 247 years ago right over there,” Mr. Kennedy continued, pointing to Independence Hall.
“They knew that if their revolution failed, every last one of them would be hanged. They chose to place everything on the line.”
Since announcing his candidacy in April to challenge President Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic Party presidential nomination, Mr. Kennedy has gained support from conservatives, moderates, independents, and Libertarians.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC), and progressive Democrats, have consistently criticized him. At its winter meeting earlier this year, the DNC voted to give its full support to President Biden and move New Hampshire and Iowa from their traditional top spots in the nominating process, replacing them with South Carolina.
In 2020, President Biden decisively lost the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) before winning South Carolina.
Over the past few months, Mr. Kennedy has hinted that he is “exploring all options” because of roadblocks presented by the DNC, which he accused of “rigging” the primary process.
“There have been anti-establishment candidates before, but none who understand how to get that job done,” Mr. Kennedy said.
“Unlike President Trump, I’ve been fighting corporate corruption and suing government agencies for 40 years. I know how they work and I know how to clean them up.
“And unlike any president since 1963, I will stand up to the military-industrial complex. I will cash in the peace dividend, and bring our troops home with honor. I will rebuild America’s strength from the inside out.
“What really terrifies the elites, though, is not me. It is what I represent—a populist movement that defies the left-right division,” Mr. Kennedy continued.
‘Still a Democrat’
After Mr. Kennedy’s announcement, the Republican National Committee released a statement that said, “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.
“American families deserve commonsense leadership that will return America’s energy independence, stop Bidenflation, secure our border, and get our country back on track, which is why our Republican nominee will be the next President of the United States.”
Based on multiple polls, the overwhelming favorite to secure the Republican Party’s nomination is former President Donald Trump. Following Mr. Kennedy’s Oct. 9 address, President Trump’s campaign said in a statement that “voters should not be deceived by anyone who pretends to have conservative values.”
“The fact is RFK has a disturbing background steeped in radical, liberal positions. Whether he’s a China sympathizer, denigrating gun owners, promoting business-killing green policies, or supporting on-demand abortion, an RFK candidacy is nothing more than a vanity project for a liberal Kennedy looking to cash in on his family’s name.”
On Oct. 2, a poll commissioned by the American Values 2024 political action committee working to get Mr. Kennedy elected president and conducted by Zogby Strategies showed that if Mr. Kennedy ran as an independent or third-party candidate in a race against President Biden and President Trump, he would start at 19 percent compared to 38 percent for President Biden and President Trump.
‘Too Much Baggage’
A registered Republican who voted for President Trump in 2016 and 2020, Brent Snyder attended Mr. Kennedy’s announcement in Philadelphia and told The Epoch Times that “there is so much corruption with the two parties and I’m tired of it. We need someone new, someone fresh, who can bring us together.”
Mr. Kennedy appeals to moderates and independents while President Trump has trouble reaching those voters, Mr. Snyder remarked.
“I think right now, a lot of people feel that there is a huge divide in this country. And even though I do support President Trump, I just think that he just brings too much division and too much baggage,” Mr. Snyder said.
“I mean, he can’t focus on running for president and he can’t focus on his job as president if he keeps having these indictments.”
Brigid Linsenmeyer is a nurse who drove two hours from Maryland to hear Mr. Kennedy’s announcement.
“I was unaffiliated for many years and then, after hearing him speak, I registered as a Democrat so I could vote for him in the primary,” she told The Epoch Times.
Ms. Linsenmeyer believes that Mr. Kennedy leaving the Democratic Party primary and running as an independent will help his chances of winning in 2024 because it will give him 13 months to campaign.
“It’s important for him to get in front of people so they can hear him speak and hear what he is going to do,” Ms. Linsenmeyer said. “Having 13 months is good since that gives him more time for people to hear him first-hand instead of what they hear about him from the mainstream media.”
Mr. Kennedy said, “it is going to be hard to tell whether our administration is right or left.” He admitted that he was wrong about criticizing President Trump’s southern border policy, and how that demonstrates his commitment to “listen with new ears to people with whom I disagree, and see solutions that would otherwise have been invisible.”
“Six months ago, I thought that an open border was a humanitarian policy, and that sealing the border meant you were a xenophobe or perhaps even a racist. I was wrong,” Mr. Kennedy said.
“How did I learn I was wrong? It wasn’t just that I listened to the other side. It was when I actually visited the border and listened to the people who weren’t on either side. My views changed as I spoke to Border Patrol officers, to local officials, to aid workers, and to the migrants themselves,” he added.
“I saw that no one party has a monopoly on wisdom, and no simplistic narrative contains the whole truth. My promise to you as president is that on every issue, I will listen to stakeholders from every side and beyond any side. I will uphold my moral convictions absolutely, but I will also hold my opinions lightly.”
From The Epoch Times