Kennedy was asked by a voter at a town hall in North Charleston, South Carolina, this month whether he’d launch an independent bid for the White House. Although he has said he’s determined to keep his ties to the party long associated with the Kennedy clan, the nephew of President John F. Kennedy and son of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy didn’t rule out anything.
“They’re trying to make sure that I can’t participate at all in the political process, and so I’m going to keep all my options open,” Kennedy said of the Democratic National Committee.
Democrats worry that a third-party candidate in a general election will pull votes away from Biden, who is facing low approval ratings, and help elect the eventual Republican nominee in 2024. The same concerns were expressed after Cornel West announced he would run as a Green Party candidate. And now the fears are growing as Biden remains neck-and-neck with the leading GOP contender, former President Donald Trump, in hypothetical matchups.
“The last thing Biden needs is Robert Kennedy Jr. running on the Libertarian line,” political consultant Jay Townsend told Newsweek. “Nothing good will come of that for Biden.”
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.
“The fact that President Biden is so unpopular that fully a third of Democrats would vote for an independent candidate in the general election underscores the importance of running a fair and competitive primary election,” a spokesperson for Kennedy’s campaign previously told Newsweek.
Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico who became the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in 2012 and 2016, also pointed out that mounting an independent bid could help Kennedy attract voters who don’t want to elect another president associated with the Democratic Party.
“If Kennedy manages to get through the process and become the Libertarian nominee, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat because he’s not Biden and he’s not Trump,” Johnson told the New York Times on Friday.
Asked about a third-party challenger, a close Biden ally told NBC News: “With a tight election, every vote counts. Is it in the back of many people’s brains? Absolutely. Do we have to be careful as we move out? Yes, we do.”
Surveys show that a growing number of Americans are discontent with their candidate choices. A September study by the Pew Research Center found that 3-in-10 Americans have an unfavorable view of the Democratic and Republican parties and that 63 percent are dissatisfied with the presidential candidates who have emerged so far. Thirty-seven percent said they wish there were more parties to choose from.
The figures come as more than 15,000 people in Arizona have registered to join No Labels, a new political party floating a possible bipartisan ticket against Biden and Trump. While it is a small number of voters, it is still a sizable enough group to upend the presidential election in a key battleground state.
“We’ve been very clear that third parties in close elections can be very dangerous and would almost certainly hurt the president,” Matt Bennett, a co-founder of the centrist Democratic group Third Way that’s coordinating efforts to stop No Labels from recruiting, told the Times. “That would be true of a No Labels candidate and it would be true of RFK.”
Kennedy has said he “would have to make a call [on running as an independent] before October 15.”
Source : Newsweek