Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (photo) is dropping out of the Democratic primary race against Biden to launch an independent campaign for president next year.
Speaking to a crowd in front of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, he cast his decision to leave the party his family has symbolized for decades as in keeping with American values of individualism – and his own platform, which mixes liberal policy priorities with more unorthodox positions for a Democrat, like tougher rhetoric on immigration and controversial claims about public health.
"Something is stirring in us. It says, 'It doesn't have to be this way,'" Kennedy said. "People stop me everywhere, at airports and hotels and malls on the street, and they remind me that this country is ready for a history-making change. They are ready to reclaim their freedom, their independence. And that's why I'm here today. I'm here to declare myself an independent candidate for president of the United States."
"I'm coming here today to declare our independence from the journey of corruption, which robs us of affordable lives, our belief in the future and our respect for each other. But to do that, I must first declare my own independence, independence from the Democratic Party," he said.
An attorney and activist, Kennedy is the scion of one of the country's most famous Democratic families: His father is slain Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Sr. and his uncle is former President John F. Kennedy.
The younger Kennedy in April launched a long-shot bid against Biden for the 2024 Democratic nomination.
Since then, however, Kennedy has attracted relatively little support from Democrats in national polling, though he has drawn millions in donations from a base of supporters.
An independent bid is a new twist in next year's election – at a time when surveys consistently show voters have soured on a potential rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump – though it's not yet clear if Kennedy can draw enough voters away from the two-party system to emerge victorious.
Teasing his Philadelphia speech last week as one that would create a “sea change in American politics,” Kennedy’s announcement follows mounting speculation about his future in the party after repeatedly sparring with the Democratic National Committee over the rules governing its primary and complaints of what he called an unfair process.
Kennedy said last month that he had not ruled out an independent run to challenge the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees in the November 2024 election, despite having repeatedly ruled out such a possibility over the summer.
"I'm a Democrat. You know, I'm a traditional Democrat, and… part of my mission here is to summon the Democratic Party back to its traditional ideals," Kennedy told Fox News in August.
But in September, he refused to rule out the possibility of an independent run during a campaign town hall in North Charleston, South Carolina, telling a supporter he was “going to keep all my options open," ABCnews informs.
Support for a third major party in U.S. politics has ticked up to 63 percent in the latest Gallup poll, notes ‘The Hill’.
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans in the new poll say a third major party is “needed” because the Republican and Democrat parties do “such a poor job” of representing the people. The figure is a 7-point jump from September, when 56 percent said a third party was needed.
It’s also the highest since Gallup first asked the question in 2003, though similarly high shares said the same in 2017 (61 percent) and 2021 (62 percent), the latter coming just after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot on the Capitol.
The poll comes amid frustration on both sides of the aisle with the two major parties’ leadership, as President Biden runs for reelection and former President Trump leads the GOP primary field, writes The Hill.
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