A super PAC aligned with RFK Jr.’s independent presidential bid aired a 30-second video during the Super Bowl that used imagery from John F. Kennedy’s campaign.
The ad cost the PAC, American Values, $7 million, according to the Hill.
The video itself echoed a famous 1960 ad from Kennedy’s campaign that featured the same jingle and cartoons, updated to include RFK Jr.’s face.
Some members of the Kennedy family quickly voiced their opposition to the video, with Bobby Shriver—a nephew of the late president—writing that “my cousin’s Super Bowl ad used our uncle’s faces- and my Mother’s.”
“She would be appalled by his deadly health care views,” he continued. “Respect for science, vaccines, & health care equity were in her DNA. She strongly supported my health care work at ONE Campaign & RED which he opposes.”
RFK Jr.’s family has previously spoken out in opposition to his views on vaccines—including his past promotion of unfounded conspiracies such that COVID-19 targeted people based on race and that vaccines can cause autism.
“We love Bobby. He is one of the great champions of the environment,” three members of the Kennedy family wrote in Politico in 2019, prior to his presidential bid.
“We stand behind him in his ongoing fight to protect our environment. However, on vaccines he is wrong,” the op-ed added. “And his and others’ work against vaccines is having heartbreaking consequences. The challenge for public health officials right now is that many people are more afraid of the vaccines than the diseases, because they’ve been lucky enough to have never seen the diseases and their devastating impact. But that’s not luck; it’s the result of concerted vaccination efforts over many years.”
Mark Shriver weighed in on the ad as well, writing in support of Bobby Shriver: “I agree with my brother [Bobby] simple as that.”
Following his cousins’ statement, RFK Jr. posted on X apologizing “if the Super Bowl advertisement caused anyone in my family pain.”
“The ad was created and aired by the American Values Super PAC without any involvement or approval from my campaign,” he added. “FEC rules prohibit Super PACs from consulting with me or my staff. I love you all. God bless you.”
However, despite the apology, the video remains pinned to the top of RFK Jr.’s page.
“Our momentum is growing,” he captioned the video. “It’s time for an Independent President to heal the divide in our country.”
According to a Harvard CAPS-Harris poll released in late January, Kennedy notched 18% in a three-way race between him and President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, who received 33% and 41% respectively.
However, in a two-way race between just Biden and Trump, the pair came in at 41% and 48%, demonstrating that Kennedy’s independent bid hurt the Biden campaign slightly more.