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Opinion: Kennedy campaign could sink Biden

Independent Robert F Kennedy Jr, son of former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, could take down Joe Biden with his campaign. Photo Via Wikimedia courtesy of Tom Williams.

Two years ago, if you asked a political journalist or an insider if a Kennedy would be running in 2024, they would tell you that you’re crazy.

But now it’s 2024, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, is running for president. Kennedy descends from the greatest political dynasty in American history. Now 70, he threw his hat in the ring as a Democrat but has since begun running as an independent.

Make no mistake: RFK’s chances of winning are zero. But could he skew the election? How would he affect it, and in whose favor?

In 2024, President Biden is running with a strange duality. In word, he is the hometown, sweat-browed Scranton kid – a Northeastern, Catholic representative of working-class America, an old-school Democrat fighting greed and helping honest dads put food on tables. 

But in practice, he has run one of the most progressive administrations ever, taking stances on abortion, gender and sexuality issues, and foreign policy with which many working-class families disagree. 

Were he alive today, President Kennedy – RFK’s uncle – would likely agree with much of the content in Biden’s speeches. But the president’s policies, especially including his handling of the Southern border, would likely furrow an old-school Democrat’s brow.

And so, into this fray enters RFK. About 10 years younger than the two main candidates, and in much better physical shape, Kennedy offers a touch of vigor and nonpartisanship to the race. He is running as the true moderate Democrat, with relatively centrist positions on both fiscal and social issues. 

His stance on the border is resolute: His campaign website says, “(We will) secure the border and bring illegal immigration to a halt, so that undocumented migrants won’t undercut wages.” Modern Dems would panic upon reading that statement. The Biden administration would never dare say as much.

So fine, Kennedy is a moderate Democrat. But what is his role in this election? If he can’t win, who can he topple?

The clear answer is President Biden. If RFK is a spoiler for any candidate, it’s the current president. Kennedy is running as a more moderate, more responsible replacement for Mr. Biden, and a more mellow counter to the pyrotechnics of Mr. Trump. He isn’t slated to steal many Trump voters: The 45th President has his base, and many moderate Republicans who are disillusioned with Mr. Trump will still vote for him to avert a Biden re-election.

But what about those voters, those moderate Democrats, who are fed up with the Biden administration’s disastrous policies but simply can’t bring themselves to vote for Trump? This is Kennedy’s bread and butter. And what’s more, RFK can recruit an X-factor that makes a significant difference.

Kennedy will officially announce his running mate on March 26, but headwinds are suggesting that his pick will be 40-year-old New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers would be a great addition given his popularity and fame, and the former Green Bay Packer could help move the needle in the crucial swing state of Wisconsin. 

A Kennedy-Rodgers ticket would certainly be interesting, marking the first time a professional athlete has been on a major presidential ballot. But the advantages of recruiting the youthful Rodgers, who is still an active NFL player, could offer voters a compelling contrast to the current president’s age and noticeable lack of vigor.

Regardless, though Kennedy cannot win, he could “spoil” several key swing states for Biden. Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Nevada will decide the presidential election. If Kennedy can absorb 50,000 or more votes in a few of those states, he could deliver key electoral victories to Trump. 

Perhaps this is his ulterior goal, given his outspoken opposition to President Biden. But whether he intends to or not, Kennedy will likely be the jackknife that drives the 46th President away from the Upper Midwest – and a second term in the White House. 

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Kevin Hutchinson
Kevin Hutchinson, Staff Writer
Senior Kevin Hutchinson is a third-year staff writer. He enjoys following politics, watching football, and spending time with his girlfriend. 
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