Apr 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Dolores Huerta, big supporter of RFK's '68 run, decries RFK Jr's '24 bid

Dolores Huerta speaks onstage at the TIME Latino Leaders Dinner held at Soulmate on November 29, 2023 in West Hollywood, California.

Dolores Huerta speaks onstage at the TIME Latino Leaders Dinner held at Soulmate on Nov. 29, 2023, in West Hollywood, Calif. Photo: Elyse Jankowski/Variety via Getty Images

Latina civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, who strongly backed Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential run and stood next to him moments before he was shot, is urging RFK Jr. to drop out of the 2024 presidential race.

Driving the news: Huerta tells Axios that the namesake son should "come to his senses" since he'll only give former President Donald Trump a better shot of returning to the White House.

The big picture: RFK Jr. is seeking to get on the ballot in states for his independent run and has launched an aggressive Latino outreach using a version of his uncle JFK's historic "Viva Kennedy!" platform.

  • His campaign has used RFK Sr.'s relationship with Huerta and United Farm Workers union leader Cesar Chavez to draw attention to the legacy of Kennedys and Latinos throughout history.

Yes, but: Many of Cesar Chavez's family members are supporting Biden. Biden's campaign manager, Julie Chávez Rodríguez, is the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez.

What they're saying: "It makes us sad to think that Robert Kennedy Jr. is actually going to help (Trump) win," said Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers with Chavez and turned 94 on Wednesday.

  • Huerta said she respects RFK Jr.'s passion for environmental issues, but he can address those and not "ruin Democratic elections."
  • "This is really sad to think that he's doing this because it makes a whole mark on the Kennedy legacy. This family has given so much to the United States of America."

Friction point: Four of RFK Jr.'s siblings have condemned his independent campaign as "dangerous to the country," saying in a statement last October that he "does not share the same values, vision or judgment" as their father.

  • Around 50 Kennedys gathered with President Joe Biden at the White House for St. Patrick's Day, sharing a viral photo from a meeting that's expected to usher in a more public phase of campaigning from the Kennedy clan, according to NBC News.

In a statement, RFK Jr. press secretary Stefanie Spear avoided addressing Huerta directly and said he is catching up with Biden and Trump among Latinos.

  • "Mr. Kennedy understands the pressure many individuals are under to discredit his campaign. Latinos are the fastest-growing minority voting bloc with 36.2 million U.S. Latinos eligible to vote this year, with a large component of those voters leaning independent."
Dolores Huerta, in red, stands next to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) before he was fatally shot on June 5, 1968 during his Presidential Campaign at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Dolores Huerta, in red, stands next to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy before he was fatally shot on June 5, 1968, during his Presidential Campaign at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Photo: Frank Carroll/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Flashback: Before RFK Sr. was fatally shot, he won the California Democratic presidential primary after Huerta helped get Mexican Americans and Asian Americans to the polls.

  • Kennedy publicly thanked Huerta for helping him achieve his victory.

The intrigue: Huerta isn't the only surviving RFK Sr. ally denouncing RFK Jr.'s run.

  • Former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris (D-Okla.), who sat next to Kennedy in the U.S. Senate and is the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, called RFK Jr. "nutty" and predicted he would fade away.
  • "He's a terrible embarrassment to people who, like me, who were great friends of his father, Robert Kennedy. He's a terrible embarrassment to his family," Harris tells Axios.

What's next: Biden's team is building an entire operation dedicated to attacking RFK Jr. so expect other former RFK Sr. allies to speak out soon.

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