Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will launch 2024 presidential bid
(CNN) — Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the anti-vaccine activist and environmental lawyer, will launch his bid for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday in Boston.
The 69-year-old Kennedy is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy and son of former US attorney general and assassinated 1968 presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.
He will join self-help guru Marianne Williamson in a presidential primary that President Joe Biden is soon expected to enter as the overwhelming favorite.
One hurdle likely facing Kennedy as he attempts to win over Democratic voters: his own family. Some Kennedy family members have denounced his views on vaccines. He has also clashed with his mother and siblings over his support for the release of Sirhan Sirhan, the man who shot and killed his father in a moment that changed US history.
Kennedy is a longtime vaccine skeptic. He has promoted discredited claims linking vaccines and autism and founded the anti-vaccine organization Children’s Health Defense.
In 2019, three members of his family — his sister Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, brother Joseph P. Kennedy II and niece Maeve Kennedy McKean — forcefully denounced his anti-vaccine views in a Politico Magazine op-ed, arguing that he was “part of a misinformation campaign that’s having heartbreaking — and deadly — consequences.”
Kennedy was a strident critic of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci. He also railed against the coronavirus vaccine and vaccine mandates.
In 2022, Kennedy invoked Nazi Germany in an anti-vaccine speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The previous year, Instagram took down his account “for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.”
Kennedy is the latest in a long line of family members to seek to enter politics.
His sister Kathleen served as the lieutenant governor of Maryland from 1995 to 2003. His brother Joseph was a congressman from Massachusetts from 1987 to 1999. And more recently, his brother Chris Kennedy was an unsuccessful candidate for governor of Illinois in 2018.
The last Kennedy to hold elected office was his nephew former Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who lost a Democratic Senate primary in 2020. (He is now the US special envoy for Northern Ireland.) Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President Kennedy, is currently the US ambassador to Australia.
The 2024 Democratic presidential primary is only beginning to take shape. Williamson launched her second long-shot campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination last month. CNN previously reported that Biden has told several elected officials in private conversations that he is “definitely running” for reelection but some Democratic officials have said a formal announcement is more likely to come this summer.
On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump jump-started the race for the party nomination, announcing his third bid for the White House last year. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are also in the race, while South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott launched an exploratory committee earlier this month. Other high-profile Republicans said to be weighing bids include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence.