Robert F. Kennedy Jr. reportedly will ditch his effort to challenge President Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination and run as an independent instead.
Kennedy, 69, whose campaign has struggled to gain the support of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is expected to announce his independent bid Oct. 9 in Philadelphia, Mediaite reported Friday.
"Bobby feels that the DNC is changing the rules to exclude his candidacy, so an independent run is the only way to go," a Kennedy campaign insider told Mediaite.
Kennedy's campaign is now planning attack ads against the DNC to pave the way for his announcement in Philadelphia about running as an independent, according to a text reviewed by Mediaite.
The RealClearPolitics polling average for the Democrat nomination shows Kennedy at 14.9%, well behind Biden at 65%. The only other Democrat candidate, Marianne Williamson, is at 4.9%.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Kennedy met with Libertarian Party Chair Angela McArdle in July in Memphis, Tennessee.
"He emphasized that he was committed to running as a Democrat but said that he considered himself very libertarian," McArdle said. "We're aligned on a lot of issues. My perspective is that we are going to stay in touch in case he does decide to run. And he can contact me at any time if that's the case."
Up to this point, Kennedy has felt thwarted in his efforts to mount a challenge against Biden, who he has called unfit to hold office. For instance, Kennedy has repeatedly called for a debate against Biden, who as the presumptive nominee and incumbent appears poised to sidestep such a direct challenge.
"I think Americans ought to have a choice. There ought to be a debate. There ought to be retail politics," Kennedy explained in an appearance on Newsmax earlier this month. "We shouldn't have a candidate who's sitting in the basement, and the only people he's talking to are donors.
"If not a debate," he continued, "then at least some unscripted conversations with American voters."
Kennedy said that the primary reason for wanting the debates is to hold Biden accountable for his rhetoric on the economy, which he has touted as making a meteoric recovery since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kennedy posted a similar sentiment on X, formerly known as Twitter, in early September, asserting that a debate was an important way for Biden to dispel concerns about his age and fitness for the Oval Office.
"President Biden could put to rest any concerns about his fitness for office by engaging me in a vigorous, issues-oriented debate. Let's end the speculation and let the voters see for themselves," he wrote on X.
What effect Kennedy's independent run will have on the 2024 election is unknown. Although popular within the liberal bloc that makes up the Democratic Party, he also is popular with Repbulicans, considering his stance on COVID-19 vaccines, his views on the deep state, and his ideas for protecting the southern border.
Still, Kennedy, Green Party candidate Cornel West, and whoever is nominated by the No Labels unity party could peel more votes away from Biden than the Republican nominee, who at this point will be former President Donald Trump, some media outlets have concluded.
Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.
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