Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 2024: Story, experience, and policies
Washington DC - Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was the second Democratic candidate to announce a 2024 bid for president before switching things up and going Independent. Here's what you need to know about his campaign and policy platform as the primary race heats up.
- Who is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.?
- Why is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. running for president?
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s policies in his 2024 presidential campaign
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s policies on policing and criminal justice
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s foreign policy
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s immigration policies
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s economic and healthcare policies
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s views on climate action
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s views on abortion
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s views on LGBTQ+ rights
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s views on vaccines
- What are Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s chances in the 2024 election?
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. formally announced his campaign for president at an event in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 19, 2023.
Though the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has gone all in on incumbent President Joe Biden's reelection campaign, RFK Jr. said he was still going to give his best shot at installing a Kennedy back in the White House.
Frustrated by partisan divisions, Kennedy announced on October 9, 2023, that he would no longer compete in the Democratic primary and instead seek the presidency as an Independent.
Curious what his bid for the White House is all about?
TAG24 NEWS is here to fill you in on everything to know about Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s campaign and his plan for America should he win in 2024.
Who is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.?
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (69) is an environmental lawyer and author. He is the son of slain 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of assassinated former President John F. Kennedy.
In 1983, Kennedy was placed on probation after pleading guilty to charges of heroine possession, during which time he volunteered for the Natural Resources Defense Council. The experience jumpstarted his legal career and advocacy for environmental protections, investment in renewable energy, and Indigenous rights.
In recent years, Kennedy has gained a reputation as a prominent anti-vaccine activist.
Kennedy has been married to Curb Your Enthusiasm star Cheryl Hines since 2014. He has six children, all of whom come from prior marriages.
Why is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. running for president?
A descendant of one of the most powerful political families in US history, Kennedy initially sought to portray himself as an outlier in the contemporary Democratic Party while harkening back to the ideals he says it embodied during his father and uncle's time.
"I have known and liked Joe Biden for many years, but we differ profoundly on fundamental issues such as corporate influence in government, censorship, civil liberties, poverty, corruption, and war policy, among others," RFK Jr. said on Twitter.
"I am a multi-generational Democrat, but I think our party has gone off track," he continued. "Remember when we upheld the interests of the poor and middle class against big corporations and Wall Street? Remember when we were the party of peace, civil liberties, and people power?"
"I aim to reclaim my party and its traditional values."
But he ultimately broke from the party, citing corruption on both sides of the aisle.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s policies in his 2024 presidential campaign
According to his campaign website, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is centering his 2024 run on the principles and priorities of honest government, reconciliation, environment, revitalization, peace, and civil liberties.
Here's where the presidential hopeful stands on the most pressing political issues of the day.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s policies on policing and criminal justice
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. outlines his policing and the criminal-legal system on his campaign website, where he states, "We will end the failed War on Drugs and grant amnesty to nonviolent drug offenders. We will shut the school-to-prison pipeline, and transition prisons away from a punishment paradigm to a rehabilitation paradigm. Prisons will be an intervention in a life gone wrong, and a way to prevent offenders from harming others again."
"Instead of defunding the police, we will transform the police," Kennedy continues. "We will incentivize them to prevent violence, not make unnecessary arrests. We will train them in deescalation and mediation skills and partner them with neighborhood organizations. No longer will their relationship to the public be adversarial. They will focus their attention on serious crimes, not harassing ordinary people."
The Independent candidate has also spoken in favor of pardoning imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as well as expressed support for other journalists and whistleblowers, including John Kiriakou, Chelsea Manning, Reality Winner, Daniel Hale, Thomas Drake, Jeffrey Sterling, and Edward Snowden.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s foreign policy
Foreign policy has become one of the principle areas where Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has sought to distinguish himself from incumbent President Joe Biden and other politicians he characterizes as supporting the US war machine.
RFK Jr. has decried US intervention and destabilization in countries around the world and has been critical of the Biden administration's actions in the Ukraine war. He has said he supported humanitarian aid toward Ukraine, but that current US policies have only served to extend the military conflict while eschewing diplomatic solutions, at the expense of Ukrainian lives.
Regarding China, RFK Jr. also believes in de-escalating the conflict and allowing China and Taiwan to decide how they want their relationship to look. He has declined to state whether he would approve a US military response if China invades Taiwan, saying he wants to leave room for deliberation with Congress and the American people. His position differs markedly from that of Biden, who has pledged to defend Taiwan militarily in case of an invasion.
RFK Jr. has faced criticism from the left for his staunch defense of the State of Israel, which has been condemned by numerous human rights organizations for its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s immigration policies
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s comments on immigration and border policy since launching his 2024 campaign focus on addressing the root causes of migration while attempting to strike a balance between those who want a closed border and those who want to see comprehensive, humanitarian reforms.
"The most crucial aspect of the immigration crisis is rarely discussed: Why are so many people so desperate in the first place to leave their homes and countries behind for an uncertain future?" RFK Jr. tweeted. "The answer is uncomfortable. In large part, it is U.S. policies that create desperate conditions south of the border. The War on Drugs is one. U.S.-funded dictators, juntas, paramilitaries, and death squads. Neoliberal extraction of resources. Unpayable debts. It is inhumane and hypocritical to deny immigration while creating the conditions that drive immigration. As President, I will change these policies. That’s the only long-term solution to the border crisis."
"Is it possible to be pro-immigration AND pro closing the border? Yes. America should be a haven of freedom and prosperity, open to law-abiding migrants who will contribute to our society. However, immigration must proceed in an orderly, lawful manner. Right now we have chaos at the border. Human trafficking, criminality, intolerable stress on border states like Texas. It is a humanitarian nightmare," he said in a separate post.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s economic and healthcare policies
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has spoken out about the need to curb Wall Street and corporate lobbyists' influence in US politics. He also supports reducing the military budget to invest in rebuilding the middle class in the US, as well as reining in the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.
Since announcing his campaign for president, RFK Jr. was spotted on the picket lines with his wife, Cheryl Hines, to show support for members of the Writers Guild of America on strike, and he has also made an appearance in support of auto workers on strike.
"It's not that the executives and boards of corporations are evil. They are under relentless pressure to expand profits and market share at any cost. Who pays the cost? If no one stands up for their interests, it is the workers and the environment. My administration will take a stand for both," he tweeted.
When it comes to health care, RFK Jr. said on a Breaking Points appearance that a single-payer system, with the option for people to purchase additional private coverage, would be his "highest ambition," though he is not sure how "politically realistic" it would be.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s views on climate action
Given Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s experience as an environmental lawyer and author, it's unsurprising to find protecting the natural world a cornerstone of his 2024 platform.
His past activities include winning a $2-million settlement from Exxon over the oil company's theft of clean water from the Hudson River, helping to negotiate New York State's ban on fracking, defending Indigenous groups in North and South America from extractive interests, calling for a major reduction in US military emissions, and campaigning against pollution from factory farms.
On his campaign website, Kennedy indicates he plans to shift agricultural subsidies to promote regenerative practices, incentivize the transition toward clean energy, and protect the natural environment by reducing mining, logging, fossil fuel extraction, and suburban sprawl.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s views on abortion
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in a Breaking Points interview that he supports bodily autonomy and does not believe the government should interfere in private health care decisions around reproductive health.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s views on LGBTQ+ rights
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has diverged from many members of his own party in his views on transgender athletes' participation in sports.
"I am against people participating in women’s sports who are biologically male," he said in a CNN interview on his campaign. "I think women have worked too hard to develop women’s sports over the past 30 years. I watched it happen, and I don’t think that’s fair."
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s views on vaccines
If you Google Robert F. Kennedy Jr., it's hard to find anything other than his controversial views on vaccinations and opposition to the Covid-19 lockdowns. In recent years, the presidential hopeful has pushed the notion that vaccines are linked to autism, established the anti-vax advocacy group Children's Health Defense, and recently penned the book The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health.
At an anti-vaccine rally in Washington DC in 2022, Kennedy garnered widespread condemnation when he appeared to suggest that civilian surveillance mechanisms are worse today than they were for Anne Frank during the Nazi regime. He later apologized after facing broad criticism, including from the Auschwitz Memorial.
"I will prosecute any official who engaged in criminal wrongdoing during the pandemic," Kennedy said in a recent Twitter post. "Corrupt individuals are a small part of the problem. Our agencies have been captured by corporate power, but the vast majority of their staff are decent people. We need to get corporate influence out of *all* regulatory agencies so that they can serve the people honestly."
What are Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s chances in the 2024 election?
Incumbent President Joe Biden, who announced his reelection campaign on April 25, is the current frontrunner in the 2024 Democratic primary, while former President Donald Trump is in the lead in the Republican race.
The DNC passed a resolution during its winter meeting in February 2023 pledging its "full and complete support" to Biden should he choose to run, denying any institutional support to Democratic primary challengers.
Kennedy, along with progressive Democratic contender Marianne Williamson, called for the DNC to host debates leading up to the primary, which would enable the American people to get to know the candidates and make an informed decision come election time. The DNC ignored those demands, making it much more difficult for a challenger to break through.
Kennedy has the advantage of broad name recognition, and his message and experience also appear to resonate with voters fed up with mainstream party politics. The DNC's preferential treatment toward the Biden-Harris campaign has allowed Kennedy to take on the role of a political outsider and non-conformist, despite being the direct descendant of a family whose very name is inherently linked with that of the Democratic Party.
Whether those factors will be enough to see him into the White House, only time will tell.
Cover photo: REUTERS