Kennedy Family Backs Biden Over RFK Jr.'s Independent Campaign

Kennedy Family Backs Biden Over RFK Jr.'s Independent Campaign

President Joe Biden secures endorsements from the Kennedy family, leveraging their renowned Democratic legacy and signaling disapproval of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s third-party bid. The familial support highlights unity behind Biden's candidacy and the rejection of internal dissent within the Kennedy clan.

President Joe Biden was formally endorsed by over a dozen members of the extended Kennedy family on Thursday. This move aimed to embrace the legacy of the well-known Democratic family and highlight their united stance against a third-party challenge led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Despite his efforts to leverage his family name and history, RFK Jr.'s campaign has been mostly rejected by the broader Kennedy family. They have deemed it as "dangerous" and have distanced themselves from his candidacy.

Thursday's event in Philadelphia, where RFK Jr. announced his independent bid for the presidency in October, highlights the threat Kennedy poses to Biden in his reelection campaign. Even a low-performing third-party candidate could potentially act as a spoiler in the race.

During a speech introducing Biden, Kerry Kennedy, one of RFK Jr.'s sisters involved in the family's organizing efforts, praised the president as a champion for the rights and freedoms her father and uncles stood for. She also warned of the threats to democracy and freedom posed by Donald Trump.

"He's trying to bring us back to a time where our fundamental rights and freedoms are under attack," she expressed. "He openly stated his desire to act like a dictator from the start and even mentioned suspending the Constitution."

"I can't help but think about the shock and disappointment my father, Robert F. Kennedy, would feel towards Donald Trump's deceitful statements and actions. My father, who served with honor as the Attorney General of the United States, always prioritized upholding the law and safeguarding the nation," Kennedy further commented.

Biden's reelection campaign, she believes, should bring together not just Democrats, but all Americans, including Republicans and independents.

Even though she mainly talked about Trump, she also managed to slip in a slight dig at her brother's campaign.

In 2024, there are just two candidates who have a shot at becoming the President. After Kerry Kennedy spoke, Biden seemed moved by her words. He gazed up at the sky and said, "Mom and Dad, I hope you heard that."

The president expressed, "Kerry, that was the best introduction I've ever received."

Biden shared that his political career was inspired by the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy Sr. Despite starting out at a prestigious law firm in Delaware after law school, Biden later chose to work as a public defender.

"I did it mainly because I believed it's what your dad would have done," he shared with the Kennedys.

In anticipation of Biden's speech, Robert Kennedy expressed in a social media post on Thursday his desire for his family's political differences to serve as an example for Americans to bring back respect and civility to public conversations. He also mentioned that he feels his family is "united in our love for each other."

Some of my family members will be endorsing President Biden today, and I'm happy to see that they are politically active, as it runs in the family. Despite our differing opinions, we remain united in our love for each other. I believe this unity is possible for America as well. Can we have disagreements without harboring hatred towards our opponents? Is it possible to bring back civility and respect to public discussions? I believe it is.

In addition, some family members are involved in my campaign. Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, my daughter-in-law, serves as my campaign manager.

After the speech, the Kennedys will join Biden at a grassroots organizing event with campaign volunteers and local supporters. Joe Kennedy III will introduce Biden, and family members will participate in making campaign phone calls and knocking on doors.

Biden has emphasized his connections to the Kennedys before, citing Robert F. Kennedy Sr. as a personal inspiration in his political career. A bust of the former attorney general and senator can be found in the Oval Office.

Independent Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. prepares to speak at a campaign rally at Los Angeles Union Station on Saturday,, March 30, 2024, in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Independent Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. prepares to speak at a campaign rally at Los Angeles Union Station on Saturday,, March 30, 2024, in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an Independent Presidential Candidate, is getting ready to address supporters at a campaign rally held at Los Angeles Union Station on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Los Angeles, California. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Richard Vogel/AP

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A campaign official for RFK Jr. was present at the 'Stop the Steal' rally on January 6th and expressed support for President Trump to run for a third term.

In his administration, President Trump appointed three family members to diplomatic positions: Caroline Kennedy as ambassador to Australia, Victoria Reggie Kennedy as ambassador to Austria, and Joe Kennedy III as special envoy to Northern Ireland.

This year on St. Patrick’s Day, the extended clan gathered at the White House for a reception and took photos with Biden in the Rose Garden. Maria Shriver, a niece of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, was also invited by Biden to his State of the Union address to recognize her efforts in women’s health.

In public statements, certain members of the Kennedy family have expressed their support for Biden in the upcoming election. They have also made it clear that they are distancing themselves from RFK Jr.’s presidential campaign.

In a recent CNN interview, Rory Kennedy, another sister of RFK Jr., expressed her concerns about his potential impact on Biden's chances of beating Trump in the upcoming election. She emphasized the significance of this election, stating that it could come down to just a few votes in key states. Kennedy worries that if Bobby takes votes away from Biden, it could ultimately result in Trump winning the election.

RFK Jr. has tried to minimize a perceived family disagreement.

"I come from a large family, around 105 cousins the last time we checked," he mentioned to CNN's Erin Burnett recently. "I have a big family. I don't know anyone in America whose family agrees on everything."

The Kennedy family members who were present at Biden's event on Thursday included Rory Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Joe Kennedy II, Beth Kennedy, Joe Kennedy III, Christopher Kennedy, Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, Vicki Strauss Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Kerry Kennedy Meltzer, Max Meltzer, Ted Kennedy Jr., Stephen Kennedy Smith, Peter McKelvy, and Rebecca McKelvy.

This story has been updated with more details.

CNN’s Michael Williams, Aaron Pellish and Eva McKend contributed to this report.

Editor's P/S:

The Kennedy family's endorsement of President Biden reflects their shared values and concerns. They believe that Biden is the best candidate to protect democracy, uphold the rule of law, and address the challenges facing the nation. They are also concerned about the threat that Donald Trump poses to American democracy.

The Kennedy family's endorsement is a significant boost to Biden's reelection campaign. It shows that he has the support of a powerful political family with a long history of public service. It also sends a message to voters that Biden is the candidate who can best represent the Democratic Party and lead the country forward.