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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Richard Luscombe

Kennedy family members endorse Biden in stinging rebuke to RFK Jr

a man speaks from behind a lectern
Joe Biden campaigns alongside members of the Kennedy family in Philadelphia on Thursday. Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Prominent members of the Kennedy political dynasty delivered a full-throated endorsement of Joe Biden’s re-election campaign on Thursday, a pointed message that was in equal measure a stinging repudiation of their relative Robert F Kennedy Jr, who is making an independent run for the White House.

Kerry Kennedy, one of six siblings of the controversial candidate on stage at a Biden campaign event in Philadelphia, called the US president “my hero” as she celebrated a litany of his achievements she said would have pleased her father, the late former US attorney general Robert F Kennedy and late uncle and president John F Kennedy.

Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 while running for president, less than five years after his elder brother John was assassinated in Dallas.

“President Biden has been a champion for all the rights and freedoms that my father and uncle stood for,” Kerry Kennedy said.

“That’s why nearly every single grandchild of Joe and Rose Kennedy supports Joe Biden. That’s right, the Kennedy family endorses Joe Biden for president,” she added, referring to JFK and RFK’s parents.

Speaking moments later, Biden said it was “an incredible honor” to have their support, and called it the most meaningful introduction he had ever received, other than one from his sister.

“The 2024 election is about two fundamentally different visions for America,” Biden said. “Donald Trump’s vision is one of anger, hate, revenge and retribution. He embraces the insurrection of January 6, he’s running on it, and has promised to be a dictator on day one.

“He calls for another bloodbath when he loses again. Your family, the Kennedy family, has endured such violence. I have a very different view of America. One of hope and optimism, like I hope all of you do, an optimism Bobby Kennedy embodied.”

Neither directly mentioned the candidacy of RFK Jr, which Biden’s supporters fear will drain vital votes from the president in November. But, Kerry Kennedy said: “In 2024 there are only two candidates with any chance of winning.”

Attacking Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, she said he was “the most anti-democratic president” in history, and that his “outrageous lies and behavior would have horrified my father”.

“Daddy stood for equal justice, for human rights, and freedom from want and fear, just as President Biden does today,” she said.

“Donald Trump mocks these values, just as he mocks our system of laws. He predicted a bloodbath if he loses the election. We cannot afford to ignore his warning.”

In all, 15 Kennedy family members were present at what amounted to a show of strength against their relative, whose racist conspiracy theories over Covid and vaccinations, among other issues, they have previously denounced as “deplorable”.

Although Kerry Kennedy, a noted human rights activist, avoided talking about her brother in her speech, she was asked in a CNN interview earlier on Thursday for thoughts on his campaign.

“We have a big family and we have a lot of discussions. Today is not about my brother Bobby. Today is about America, it’s about freedom, it’s about democracy,” she said.

RFK Jr acknowledged his family’s position in a tweet posted before the Biden campaign event.

“I hear some of my family will be endorsing President Biden today. I am pleased they are politically active – it’s a family tradition. We are divided in our opinions but united in our love for each other,” he wrote.

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