Robert F. Kennedy Jr

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‘Thanksgiving gonna be pretty awkward’: 4 of RFK Jr.’s siblings dunk on his decision to run in 2024 as an independent

RFK's family has frequently expressed concern about him privately since he announced his campaign


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Oct 9, 2023   Updated on Oct 9, 2023, 2:31 pm CDT

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced today that he was dropping out of the race for the 2024 Democratic nomination for the presidency and would be running as an independent instead.  

“I’m here to declare myself an independent candidate for president of the United States,” Kennedy Jr. said at a rally in Philadelphia announcing the move in front of a big poster with his campaign slogan “Kennedy24: Declare Your Independence.”

Kennedy Jr. has struggled to make a dent in the polls against President Joe Biden, the incumbent candidate and current president. He’s also accused the Democratic National Committee of rigging the campaign by refusing to allow primary debates.

“If the DNC is going to rig it so that it is simply impossible for anybody to challenge President Biden, you know I need to look at other alternatives,” he said in September.

“I’m here to join you in making a new declaration of independence for our entire nation,” Kennedy Jr. said in Philadelphia today. “We declare independence from the corporations that have hijacked our government. And we declare independence from Wall Street, from Big Tech, from Big Pharma, from Big Ag, from the military contractors and their lobbyists.”

After Kennedy’s announcement, four of Kennedy’s siblings quickly released a statement declaring their own independence from him.

In a statement signed by Rory Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy II, and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the siblings said that “the decision of our brother Bobby to run as a third party candidate against Joe Biden is dangerous to our country. Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision, or judgment.”

RFK Jr. has frequently invoked the legacy of his father, Robert F. Kennedy, and his uncle, former President John F. Kennedy on the campaign trail. In June he gave a speech announcing his foreign policy perspective, that U.S. power projection outside of the country is a political mistake, and said it was inspired by JFK’s “Peace Speech”’” at American University in 1963.

“Today’s announcement is deeply saddening for us,” the Kennedy siblings’ announcement finished. “We denounce his candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country.” 

The Kennedy siblings who signed the letter all have had influence and careers close to the Democratic Party. Rory Kennedy is a documentary filmmaker who covers progressive causes and endorsed former President Barack Obama early in the 2008 campaign, Kerry Kennedy is a lawyer who was married to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for 15 years, Joseph P. Kennedy II was a House representative in Congress from 1987 to 1999, and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was lieutenant governor of Maryland from 1995-2003.

The Kennedy siblings aren’t the first RFK relatives to criticize RFK Jr.

In July, one of JFK’s grandsons, Jack Schlossberg, posted an Instagram video criticizing RFK Jr., and endorsing Joe Biden for president.

“He’s trading in on Camelot, celebrity conspiracy theories and conflict for personal gain and fame. I’ve listened to him, I know him. I have no idea why anyone thinks he should be president. What I do know is his candidacy is an embarrassment.”

“Thanksgiving gonna be pretty awkward this year…” commented @watkins_japan on X about the announcement today from the Kennedy siblings.

RFK Jr.’s campaign didn’t respond to a question about what else he was hearing from his family.

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*First Published: Oct 9, 2023, 2:26 pm CDT