Updated Oct 9, 2023 - Politics & Policy

RFK Jr. to run as independent in 2024, ditching Democratic primary bid

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at an event on Sept. 15 in Los Angeles. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced on Monday at Philadelphia's Independence Mall that he is dropping his longshot Democratic primary bid and instead will run as an independent presidential candidate in 2024.

Why it matters: Kennedy could play spoiler in a close 2024 contest between President Biden and former president Trump, the GOP primary frontrunner.

  • An Ipsos/Reuters poll published this month found that in a three-way 2024 matchup, 33% of respondents supported Trump, 31% supported Biden — with the pair too close to call — and 14% supported Kennedy.

Driving the news: Kennedy said Monday he was "declaring independence" from the "tyranny of corruption that robs us of affordable lives, our belief in the future and our respect for each other."

  • "People suspect that the divisions are deliberately orchestrated," he said. "They're fed up with being fooled and they're ready to take back power."

What they're saying: A group of Kennedy's siblings called the announcement "deeply saddening."

  • "Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgement," said a joint statement posted by younger sister Kerry Kennedy. "We denounce his candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country"

Flashback: In a video late last month, Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, teased that he would make "a major announcement" at an Oct. 9 event in Philadelphia, and that he would be "speaking about a sea change in American politics."

  • Kennedy has garnered support from some conservatives and has made no secret of his issues with the Democratic party.

The other side: Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said on Monday that despite Kennedy's announcement, he is "a Democrat in Independent's clothing."

  • She said "he is your typical elitist liberal and voters won't be fooled."

Zoom out: The nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, RFK Jr. launched his presidential bid in April.

Go deeper: RFK Jr.: Conservatives' favorite 2024 Democrat

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comment from Kennedy, his siblings and the RNC.

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