One month after telling NHJournal he was “thinking about” entering the race, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has made it official. He filed his declaration of candidacy on Wednesday for the Democratic Party’s 2024 presidential primary, creating a potential headache for President Joe Biden in New Hampshire.
On March 3, Kennedy spoke at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, a popular launching pad for presidential ambitions. The environmental activist and outspoken vaccine skeptic didn’t mention a White House run, but when a NHJournal reporter asked Kennedy replied, “I am thinking about it,” sparking enthusiastic applause from the audience.
“And I’ve passed the biggest hurdle, which is my wife has greenlighted it. And if things go right, we’ll have the funniest first lady in history,” Kennedy said at the time.
Kennedy’s wife, actress Cheryl Hines, who was in the audience, portrayed the wife of Larry David on his hit HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Kennedy has yet to comment publicly on his decision to get into the race. On March 10, he tweeted to his 851,000 followers asking them to “help me decide whether to run for president. If it looks like I can raise enough money and mobilize enough people to win, I’ll jump in the race.
“Together, we can restore America’s democracy,” Kennedy wrote.
He must have liked the response because he is now officially in the race and is almost certain to appear on the New Hampshire ballot for next year’s First-in-the-Nation Democratic Party primary. That creates a problem for Biden, who is assumed will seek a second term and who orchestrated the Democratic National Committee’s move to strip the Granite State of first place in the primary lineup.
New Hampshire will still hold its primary first, with or without the DNC’s approval, a primary Biden declared had to be delayed in the name of racial equity. If Biden refuses to participate, it is possible Kennedy could receive thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — of votes and possibly win the initial primary of the 2024 cycle.
Self-help guru Marianne Williamson is also on the Democratic ballot, another potential spoiler if Biden chooses to stay off the ballot here.
Biden lost the Granite State Democratic primary twice before — and badly. Now that he has attempted to strip New Hampshire Democrats of their prized place at the front of the line, it’s not hard to imagine potential Biden voters staying home on Primary Day. Biden’s dilemma would be whether to ignore the New Hampshire primary and almost certainly lose it or reverse his “racial equity” position and put his name on the ballot.
New Hampshire Democratic Party chair warned Wednesday in an interview with WMUR that Biden’s decision to bail on the New Hampshire primary was fraught with risk.
“I hope very much that the White House reconsiders, that the president does file in New Hampshire and that he wins heartily,” Buckley said. “The fact is, we’re going to be first. And if he chooses not to participate, that just allows multiple others to make a name for themselves.”
Not that Kennedy doesn’t have his own problems as a political figure. He’s a founder of Children’s Health Defense, an organization that spread questionable anti-vaccine arguments long before COVID-19 hit the U.S. According to the AP, “Kennedy released a book in 2021, ‘The Real Anthony Fauci,” in which he accused the U.S.’s top infectious disease doctor of assisting in “a historic coup d’etat against Western democracy” and promoted unproven COVID-19 treatments such as ivermectin, which is meant to treat parasites, and the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.”
There have been some media reports that Kennedy created a New Hampshire committee to boost his candidacy. Secretary of State David Scanlan told NHJournal last week that wasn’t true.
“We do not have any political committee filings with our office under the name of Robert Kennedy, Jr. A federal candidate may want to set up a New Hampshire Committee if they wanted to help state candidates seeking office.”