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The difficult to discern Robert Kennedy Jr's third way.

Evan Vucci Associated Press Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Trump Tower in New York, in 2017

The math was good this week for independent US presidential candidate Robert F . Kennedy Jr., who, almost a year before the election, benefits from a popularity that exceeds that of the headliners of the two major political parties currently in the race: the Democrat and President of the United States, Joe Biden , and the leader in the Republican primary, Donald Trump.

A Harvard CAPS-Harris survey unveiled Monday confirmed the favorable opinion shared by 52% of those questioned towards this other Kennedy who is seeking to get his hands on the key to the White House, him in 2024. And this, in the week America sadly remembers the 60th anniversary, this November 22, of the assassination of his uncle, John F. Kennedy.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of 11 children of Bobby Kennedy, ahead of Donald Trump (51%) and President Joe Biden (46%) in terms of positive image induced among voters.

In a race where the quest for a third way between an aging president at the head of a country in crisis and a revanchist populist with autocratic ambitions is felt by many Americans, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. therefore seems to be doing well. Thu. However, he benefits from “attention linked to his name, much more than to his political program,” summarizes political scientist Nick Beauchamp, associate professor at Northeastern University in Boston, in an interview.

“He attracts attention for the same reasons that a car accident on the highway arouses morbid curiosity,” bluntly adds Democratic political strategist Max Burns, contacted by Le Devoir in Arizona this week last. “If he makes the front pages of certain newspapers, it is mainly for his shocking comments and his promotion of certain conspiracy theories, nothing else. He’s capturing voters’ attention, but it’s not for the right reasons. »

It attracts attention for the same reasons that a car accident on the highway arouses morbid curiosity

— Max Burns

Coming from a family that still shapes the legend of America, the lawyer specializing in environmental law made his mark in 1968 by becoming, at the age of 14, one of the pallbearers of the coffin of his father, Bobby, former attorney general of the United States and presidential candidate that year. The young senator, it will be remembered, was assassinated in Los Angeles less than five years after his brother, on the evening of the California Democratic primary which he had just won.

But Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also made a name for himself by leading the charge against Hudson River polluters in the 1980s, suing pesticide and GMO giant Monsanto in 2017 and, more recently, becoming the one of the voices of the anti-vaccination movement in the United States, a movement which found new forms of fuel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disruptive element


The politician supported the idea in late 2022 that coronavirus vaccines were “a crime against humanity” causing an “epidemic” of mysterious deaths among young people. An assertion yet without scientific support. Previously, he had wrongly claimed that vaccines, although safe and secure, were one of the causes of autism, a link whose absurdity has been a consensus in the medical community for several years.

Quoted by the New York Post, he also claimed that COVID-19 was a bacteriological weapon designed to “target” more Blacks and Caucasians and spare Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews. He has since claimed that these remarks, although recorded, had been “misinterpreted” on purpose to smear him and harm his campaign.

In his quest for the White House, he first ran in the Democratic primary to face Joe Biden. But, since October, he has decided to exit this race and continue his path as an independent candidate for the 2024 presidential election.

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is reminiscent of Donald Trump, even if he plays on different emotions and remains less grandiloquent,” comments Kenneth M. Cosgrove, a specialist in American politics at Suffolk University, in an interview. Massachusetts. “He also demonstrates that institutions are now less effective than before in stopping a candidacy like his and especially take advantage of mainstream media, more marginal media and social networks, whose editorial standards are lower than those of the media traditional, to build an audience and generate interest. »

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is reminiscent of Donald Trump, even if he plays on different emotions and remains less grandiloquent

— Kenneth M. Cosgrove

Last June, from New Hampshire, he maintained his image as a disruptive element in American politics by asserting that the American government had its share of responsibility in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. A thesis condemned by American diplomacy and Westerners in general, and promoted especially by the Kremlin to justify its aggression against the former Soviet republic. “I hate Russia’s brutal and bloody invasion of this nation,” he told a political rally. “But we must understand that our government has also contributed to this situation through deliberate and repeated provocations against Russia since the 1990s.”

Remarks which regularly earn him the applause of a class of voters breaking with the establishment, and in whom Robert F. Kennedy Jr., like Donald Trump, seeks to reinforce the feeling of being deceived, manipulated and abandoned by an elite interested in defending its own interests rather than those of the country. Even if it means alienating the Kennedy clan, perceived as part of the democratic and progressive elite,

Last October, while he confirmed his candidacy as an independent candidate, his sisters Kathleen, former lieutenant-governor of Maryland, Rory, documentary filmmaker, and Kerry, human rights lawyer, accompanied by their brother Joseph II, man of business, have also taken up the pen to denounce Robert's presidential aspirations, which would pose a risk to the country, according to them. “Bobby may have the same name as our father, but he doesn’t share the same values, vision or judgment. Today’s announcement deeply saddens us. »

Trump and Kennedy?

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. would be the almost perfect running mate for Donald Trump, and that may be something we could see over the next few months,” says Richard Bensel, professor of political science at Cornell University , in New York State, when asked if the presence of this Kennedy in the race risks ultimately overshadowing the candidacy of Joe Biden more than that of Donald Trump.

“He threatens Biden in some industrial worker states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, but could also steal votes from Trump in some of the swing states of the Sunbelt, like North Carolina, Georgia or Arizona,” he adds.

“Most of Kennedy's positions align not with those of liberal Democrats, but much more with those of conservatives,” adds political scientist David Barrett of Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

< p>In terms of hypotheses, one thing remains certain: for 40 years, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been the third option which attracts the most voting intentions.

Some 22% of voters would lean indeed for him, according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, if his name were to be found on a ballot next to that of Joe Biden and Donald Trump. That's a little more than the 19 percent polling for Ross Perot in 1992 and John Anderson in 1980, and more than the 14 percent for George Wallace in 1968, three other independents who started out strong early race, but who failed the test at the voting booth, winning 8.4%, 6.6% and 13.5% of the votes cast, respectively.

Of these three-way races, two Republicans ( Reagan and Nixon) and a Democrat (Clinton) came out on top.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116