RFK Jr. Running for President

Marianne Williamson is getting some competition.

AP (“Anti-vaccine activist RFK Jr. challenging Biden in 2024“):

Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine activist and scion of one of the country’s most famous political families, is running for president.

Kennedy filed a statement of candidacy Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.

The 69-year-old’s campaign to challenge incumbent President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination is a long shot.

You don’t say?

Self-help author Marianne Williamson is also running in the Democratic race.

Honestly, he might be able to take her.

Kennedy, a nephew of President John F. Kennedy and the son of his slain brother Robert F. Kennedy, was once a bestselling author and environmental lawyer who worked on issues such as clean water.

But more than 15 years ago, he became fixated on a belief that vaccines are not safe. He emerged as one of the leading voices in the anti-vaccine movement, and his work has been described by public health experts and even members of his own family as misleading and dangerous.

Kennedy had been long involved in the anti-vaccine movement, but the effort intensified after the COVID-19 pandemic and development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

His anti-vaccine charity, Children’s Health Defense, prospered during the pandemic, with revenues more than doubling in 2020 to $6.8 million, according to filings made with charity regulators.

His organization has targeted false claims at groups that may be more prone to distrust the vaccine, including mothers and Black Americans, experts have said, which could have resulted in deaths during the pandemic.

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.

His push against the COVID-19 vaccine has linked him at times with anti-democratic figures and groups. Kennedy has appeared at events pushing the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and with people who cheered or downplayed the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

A photo posted on Instagram showed Kennedy backstage at a July 2021 Reawaken America event with former President Donald Trump’s ally Roger Stone, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and anti-vaccine profiteer Charlene Bollinger. All three have promoted the lie about the 2020 election being stolen.

Bollinger has appeared with Kennedy at multiple events. She and her husband sponsored an anti-vaccine, pro-Trump rally near the Capitol on Jan. 6. Bollinger celebrated the attack and her husband tried to enter the Capitol. Kennedy later appeared in a video for their Super PAC.

Kennedy has repeatedly invoked Nazis and the Holocaust when talking about measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, such as mask requirements and vaccine mandates. He has sometimes apologized for those comments, including when he suggested that people in 2022 had it worse than Anne Frank, the teenager who died in a Nazi concentration camp after hiding with her family in a secret annex in an Amsterdam house for two years.

Okay, so he’s a long shot. He might actually be competitive if he were running in the Republican primaries.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. MarkedMan says:

    Just a reminder that nutballs come in all flavors. On the other hand he remains a fringe member of the Democratic Party with no real base or power there. MTG, on the other hand, is a powerful leader for the Republicans.

  2. Scott F. says:

    At first, you want to flippantly dismiss this guy, as James does here. Then you read this:

    His anti-vaccine charity, Children’s Health Defense, prospered during the pandemic, with revenues more than doubling in 2020 to $6.8 million, according to filings made with charity regulators.

    Imagine the good that could be done for children’s health with 6.8 mil if it weren’t going to this menace. It makes my blood boil.

  3. Charley in Cleveland says:

    This will please my anti-vax in-laws who have been throwing away their vote on un-electable 3rd party candidates for years. They have been invoking RFK Jr. on vaccines as though he was a combination of Jonas Salk and Albert Einstein instead of the intellectually bankrupt black sheep of the Kennedy clan.

  4. James Joyner says:


    MTG, on the other hand, is a powerful leader for the Republicans.

    While I would agree she’s more representative of the current GOP than RFKjr is of the Dems, she’s a backbench junior member of the House with seats on lesser committees. She’s hardly a party leader.

    @Scott F.:

    Imagine the good that could be done for children’s health with 6.8 mil if it weren’t going to this menace.

    Indeed. Although I have no idea how much of that 6.8 mil was specifically donated to support anti-vax lunacy vs actual interest in children’s health.

  5. Tony W says:

    @James Joyner:

    She’s hardly a party leader.

    Well, she got a fawning 60 minutes interview, and I’m predicting her to be Trump’s VP nominee, so I’d hardly call that “backbench”.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: You must be bored this AM James, I can’t imagine any other reason for you to comment on this lunacy. 😉

  7. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Sometimes, stories just amuse me and I’ll post something quick on them. I wouldn’t have posted this if it were some Joe Blow; RFKjr is a major figure.

  8. Kathy says:

    @Scott F.:

    I can’t wrap my head around the notion of a charity that actively hurts people.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tony W: I’m predicting her to be Trump’s VP nominee

    I have a hard time seeing that. trump doesn’t like attention whore running mates who compete with him for the limelight. I think he would much prefer another throw rug like Pence.

  10. James Joyner says:

    @Tony W: She got the “60 Minutes” interview because she generates controversy, not because she’s powerful. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith is way more significant (hell, so is Ranking Member Richard Neal) but nobody would tune in to watch them interviewed.

  11. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Scion…meaning he won the birth lottery.
    Imagine being given all the advantages in life, and using that privilege to kill people with your ignorance?

  12. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    She’s hardly a party leader.

    She gets a lot of attention, coin of the realm in the GOP. Kevin McCarthy pays her attention.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    she’s a backbench junior member of the House with seats on lesser committees.

    I would hardly call Homeland Security and Oversight “lesser”.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    RFKjr is a major figure

    I’m not giving you any grief about the post as it seems newsworthy to me, but RFKjr is only a major figure in anti-vax circles. He does have a very famous family name, but I can’t think of anything he’s been associated with in the past 5-10 years that doesn’t have to do with vax-looniness.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    I suspect James’ throwaway comment about MTG being a “backbencher” could devolve into an argument over differing definitions. By my understanding of the term, MTG is far, far from a backbencher, whereas James seems to be applying it to anyone who doesn’t have a senior position (Speaker, Whip, etc) or a chairmanship of one of the very most powerful committees. So, in the hope of heading this off, I’ll concede that if this is James’ definition, then MTG is a backbencher by his terms. FWIW, “backbencher” is originally a parliamentary government term and here is one explanation:

    In parliamentary governments, backbenchers are the legislators who hold the least amount of power. Backbenchers don’t set policy, and they never sit in the front row.

    The political term backbencher, coined in the late 19th century, came from the fact that these members sit behind the so-called “frontbench” in the House of Parliament. That powerful front row holds party spokespeople and government ministers. Backbenchers, on the other hand, tend to be newly elected, critical of their party’s policies, or simply out of the spotlight. In parliamentary governments, like those in the U.K. and Canada, most members of parliament are backbenchers.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    Given the choice of Marianne Williamson or RFK Jr., I’d go with Marianne, she’s eccentric, but not crazy.

  17. steve says:

    Surprised he isn’t running as a Republican. Dont the Q Anon people have a lot of conspiracy theories about JFK? Isn’t he still alive and hanging with Elvis?


  18. anjin-san says:

    @James Joyner:

    RFKjr is a major figure.

    Certainly not in Democratic politics, where he is so fringe he is in the parking lot across the street from the golf course.

  19. Ken_L says:

    He’s not really running for president. He’s hoping to be chosen as Williamson’s running mate.