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Robert Kennedy Jr to run as independent, could complicate Trump, Biden 2024 contest

Published 09/29/2023, 07:43 PM
Updated 09/29/2023, 07:46 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. delivers his political soapbox speech at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. August 12, 2023. REUTERS/Scott Morgan/File Photo
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By Heather Timmons

(Reuters) - U.S. presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will announce he is running as an independent instead of pursuing his long-shot bid to oust President Joe Biden as the Democratic Party nominee, a shift that could complicate the 2024 election.

Anti-vaccine activist Kennedy, a member of a storied U.S. political dynasty, posted a video on YouTube on Friday asking Americans to join him for a "major announcement" in Philadelphia on Oct. 9.

"I'll be speaking about a sea change in American politics," he said, decrying corruption in "both parties."

"How are we going to win against the established Washington interests?" he asks. "It's not through playing the game" by the current rules, he said.

Kennedy is nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963, and the son of former U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 during his own presidential bid.

Kennedy said in April he would challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination to run against the Republican nominee, expected to be former President Donald Trump.

Since then, Kennedy has complained that the Democratic Party has "essentially merged into one unit" with the Biden campaign, denying him a fair shot in the nominating contest. Several opinion polls put Biden way ahead of Kennedy in single digit percentages or low double digits.

Kennedy's plan to run as an independent instead was first reported by Mediaite, a politics website.

Asked about the report, Kennedy's campaign emailed Reuters a link to Kennedy's video.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. delivers his political soapbox speech at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. August 12, 2023. REUTERS/Scott Morgan/File Photo

Democrats have expressed concern that any third-party bid could draw votes away from Biden, 80, who faces concerns about the economy and his age in an expected rematch against the Republican frontrunner and presumed nominee Trump, 77.

However, Republicans like Kennedy more than Democrats do by a wide margin, opinion polling compiled by FiveThirtyEight showed, suggesting Trump's campaign could be impacted as well. Trump faces four criminal prosecutions, including charges he illegally tried to overturn Biden's 2020 election victory, and his campaign is bleeding cash for legal expenses.

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