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Ruben Navarrette

Ruben Navarrette

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RFK Jr. could hurt Biden’s chances in 2024

May 23

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A member of the Kennedy dynasty, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has entered the 2024 presidential race, promising to “heal the divide” in America. RFK Jr., an environmental lawyer known mostly for his crusade against vaccinations, isn’t someone to write off, according to Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette.

He argues that RFK Jr. certainly has the ability to get in some shots against President Biden in 2024, possibly thwarting the 80-year-old’s chances in the general election.

Say hello to RFK 2.0 folks. Robert Kennedy Jr. says he’s in it to win it. The social activist recently declared his long shot candidacy for president in 2024.

Once known as one of the nation’s top environmental lawyers, RFK Jr. has more recently been associated with the anti-vax movement and other causes that Biden’s protectors in the media and the liberal establishment will surely, in the coming months, label “fringe” or “kooky.” Like his father, the son doesn’t seem to trust authority, defer to the establishment or toe the party line. Also, like his father, he doesn’t appear to give a damn what others think of him, and he doesn’t mind walking alone if he has to. 

This time RFK Jr. has to walk alone. Some of his siblings and cousins actually work for the Biden administration, and they’re gonna stay loyal to their boss — family be damned.

The O.G. Robert Kennedy, the one that my Mexican-Catholic grandmother affectionately called “Bobby,” was the real deal. The New York senator and former U.S. attorney general — and the brother of President John F. Kennedy — has, for the last 50 years, set the standard for Democrats. He was tough and compassionate, vulnerable and authentic, tireless and relentless in pursuit of social justice. One of the things that admirers of RFK talk about is that his appeal had no boundaries. 

It’s true that history repeats itself. At least there’s some pretty loud repeating going on at the moment within the Democratic Party. The calendar reads the present day 2023. But as far as some liberals are concerned, it’s 1968 all over again. 

 

In 1968, Americans had an unpopular president, so unpopular that Lyndon Johnson opted eight months before election day, not to run for reelection. When Johnson bowed out of the presidential race in March 1968, his disapproval rating was at a staggering 57%. In 2023, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that President Joe Biden is in bad shape. 

 

He has a disapproval rating of 56%. Biden’s approval rating is the lowest ever as President, 36%. That means at the moment, two out of every three Americans are eager to take applications from other candidates. Age is a big issue. 68% of Americans think that at 80, Biden’s too old for this job. But there are other issues too. Biden campaigned as a moderate, launched his presidency as a progressive, and spent two years meandering into a murky no man’s land where he all but takes requests from the audience as to what persona he’ll assume tomorrow. According to the poll, both former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis  would beat Biden in hypothetical matchups. And those Republicans might peel off support from the opposing camp too, given that 58% of Democrats don’t want Biden as the party’s nominee. In 1968, one of the Democratic alternatives who vied for the party’s nomination after Johnson retreated was named Robert Kennedy. In 2023, there’s a new disrupter on the scene who’s challenging Biden in the Democratic primary, and his name is, well, same-same. 

 

Say hello to RFK 2.0 folks. Robert Kennedy Jr. says he’s in it to win it. The social activist recently declared his longshot candidacy for president in 2024. Once known as one of the nation’s top environmental lawyers, RFK Jr. has more recently been associated with the anti-vax movement and other causes that Biden’s protectors in the media and the liberal establishment will surely, in the coming months, label fringe or kooky. Like his father, the son doesn’t seem to trust authority, defer to the establishment or tow the party line. Also, like his father, he doesn’t appear to give a damn what others think of him, and he doesn’t mind walking alone if he has to. This time RFK Jr. has to walk alone. Some of his siblings and cousins actually work for the Biden administration, and they’re gonna stay loyal to their boss. Family be damned. The O.G. Robert Kennedy, the one that my Mexican-Catholic grandmother affectionately called “Bobby” was the real deal. The New York Senator and former U.S. Attorney General and the brother of President John F. Kennedy has, for the last 50 years, set the standard for Democrats. He was tough and compassionate, vulnerable and authentic, tireless and relentless in pursuit of social justice. One of the things that admirers of RFK talk about is that his appeal had no boundaries. When Bobby died on June 6th, 1968. After being shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, his casket was transported by train from New York to Washington, DC. People lined up for miles on both sides of the tracks to pay their respects – whites on one side, blacks on the other. Show me a politician today who could pull off that trick — certainly not the current occupant of the White House. The only way in which this president has managed to unite Americans is in opposition to him, his policies and his administration. So Democrats ought not turn their back on RFK Jr. or take him lightly. Sure, the renegade can’t win the nomination or the White House. But Kennedy could get in a few shots and soften up Biden, just enough so that the incumbent loses the general election.

 

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