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Biden hails ‘incredible’ Kennedy family backing

The Kennedy family have endorsed US President Joe Biden during a campaign trip to Philadelphia – underscoring the election threat posed by family black sheep and independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

“I don’t want to become emotional, but what an incredible honour to have the support of the Kennedy family,” Mr Biden, 81, said after 15 members of politically storied family backed the Democrat against Donald Trump.

The Kennedy endorsement is also crucial amid fears that a strong showing by conspiracy theorist and vaccine-sceptic “RFK Jr” could tilt the election to Donald Trump in November’s US presidential vote.

The environmental lawyer is the son of Robert F. Kennedy Sr, or Bobby, who served as attorney general under assassinated president John F. Kennedy, and was himself shot dead in 1968 during his own presidential bid.

The candidate’s sister Kerry Kennedy introduced Mr Biden at the event, the crowning moment of a three-day swing through the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr said he respected the family’s decision to back his electoral rival

“Almost every single grandchild of Rose and Joe Kennedy supports Joe Biden. That’s right, the Kennedy family endorses Joe Biden for president,” Kerry Kennedy said, referring to the family patriarchs.

She did not mention RFK Jr by name but repeatedly hinted at the risk to Mr Biden if people vote for her brother, saying there were “only two candidates with any chance of winning” – Mr Biden and Mr Trump.

“We all need to come together in a campaign that should unite not only Democrats but all Americans, including Republicans and the independents,” she said.

Mr Biden responded by painting himself, and not RFK Jr., as the political heir to her father Bobby Kennedy.
He has a bronze bust of Bobby Kennedy in the Oval Office that can be seen behind him in photos whenever he meets foreign dignitaries at the White House.

“Today I sit behind the Resolute Desk where President John F. Kennedy once sat, and as I look from the desk… to the left is a bust of Martin Luther King Jr, and to the right is a bust of your dad,” he said.

‘Family tradition’

Robert F. Kennedy Jr said he respected the family’s decision to back his electoral rival.

“I hear some of my family will be endorsing President Biden today. I am pleased they are politically active – it’s a family tradition,” he said on X.

“We are divided in our opinions but united in our love for each other.”

He also said he had been nominated to be on the ballot in the crucial battleground state of Michigan.

Mr Biden will also speak at a grassroots event, introduced by RFK Jr’s nephew, Joe Kennedy III, who serves as Biden’s special envoy to Northern Ireland for economic affairs, before family members go out door knocking.

The endorsement is not the first show of force for Mr Biden by America’s most mythologized political family.

US President Joe Biden embraces Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Joe Kennedy III

Dozens of Kennedys posed for a photo with Mr Biden in the White House Rose Garden to mark Saint Patrick’s Day in March as they celebrated their shared Irish heritage.

It comes amid growing Democratic unease that Robert F. Kennedy’s wildcard shot for the presidency risks being a spoiler for Biden’s hopes of a second term in the White House.

Mr Kennedy, a vaccine sceptic who has spread misinformation downplaying the 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol, is boasting double-digit support in polls with the election less than seven months away.

Democrats have learned to fear long-shot outsiders after George W. Bush and Mr Trump won tight elections in 2000 and 2016, buoyed by Green Party candidates siphoning votes from Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

Mr Kennedy, 70, started his White House bid as a democrat, but exited the primary after complaining of bullying tactics by Biden allies seeking to keep him out of contention.


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