When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. first announced his 2024 presidential candidacy earlier this year, he made it abundantly clear that he was running as a Democrat and intended to challenge President Joe Biden for the party's nomination.
There is widespread speculation now, fueled in part by Kennedy himself, that he will soon abandon the virtually nonexistent Democratic primary and transform his candidacy into an independent or third-party run for the presidency, according to Breitbart.
Such a monumental move would largely be due to allegations that the Democratic National Committee had interfered substantially in the primary process to freeze out Kennedy or any other challenger against Biden by way of unfairly altering rules and schedules and otherwise tilting the field in favor of the incumbent.
Mediaite reportedly exclusively this week that it reviewed a text that strongly suggests that Kennedy will soon announce an independent bid for the presidency, perhaps as part of a big upcoming speech in Philadelphia on October 9 that he has teased.
The text indicated that the Kennedy campaign is preparing to launch "attack ads" against the DNC and Democratic establishment in an effort to "pave the way" for the announcement of his independent run.
An unnamed Kennedy campaign insider seemingly confirmed the plan and told the outlet, "Bobby feels that the DNC is changing the rules to exclude his candidacy so an independent run is the only way to go."
This potential shift in partisan affiliation for Kennedy shouldn't come as a complete surprise, as ABC News reported last month that the candidate was increasingly vocalizing on the campaign trail his growing frustrations with the DNC and the perceived roadblocks they have erected to obstruct his run for the Democratic nomination.
"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 told New Hampshire voters when asked about the DNC and a potential independent run -- an unmistakable change from his repeated assertions earlier in the year that he was a staunch Democrat who only intended to run as a Democrat to be the party's next standard-bearer.
If Kennedy were to launch an independent bid -- or perhaps latch on to a third party, as other reports have indicated he has held discussions with the Libertarian Party -- the question then becomes which of the two presumptive major party nominees he would siphon away the most support from, President Biden or former President Donald Trump?
Given his family name and pedigree within the Democratic Party -- he is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy and son of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy Sr. -- the natural assumption is that he would draw a non-trivial measure of support away from Biden's base of Democratic voters, perhaps as much as the roughly 15% he has consistently garnered in Democratic primary polls.
That assumption may prove incorrect, however, according to a recent analysis from The Washington Post, which theorized that a Kennedy independent run might actually harm Trump more than Biden by cutting into the presumptive GOP nominee's Republican base of support.
The Post suggested that the "cynical" efforts of Republicans and the ideological right to promote Kennedy's candidacy as a way to hurt Biden could "backfire" based on various polls and surveys which show that the formerly beloved Democratic scion has increasingly been rejected by the left and embraced by the right over some of his anti-establishment and unorthodox positions on certain issues that don't fully align with Democratic narratives.
It remains to be seen what, exactly, Kennedy intends to announce in his October 9 speech in Philadelphia, and if it is indeed an independent run for the presidency, that would unquestionably be a game changer in terms of the 2024 race.
Further, regardless of media predictions and prognostications, nobody knows for sure how an independent Kennedy run would play out in the election year or can say with any certainty whether his candidacy would help or hurt either Biden or Trump.