Biden, in counter to RFK Jr., gets endorsement of other Kennedy family members

ByGabriella Abdul-Hakim, Libby Cathey, Fritz Farrow and Will McDuffie ABCNews logo
Thursday, April 18, 2024

President Joe Biden wrapped up a three-day Pennsylvania campaign swing in Philadelphia on Thursday with an endorsement by 15 members of the politically famous Kennedy family -- a counter to the political threat from RFK Jr.

Kerry Kennedy, a daughter of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, joined Biden along with some of her relatives and said another Donald Trump presidency would "horrify" her father.

"We can say today, with no less urgency, that our rights and freedoms are once again in peril," Kerry Kennedy said during one of Biden's campaign events in Philadelphia. "That is why we all need to come together in a campaign that should unite not only Democrats but all Americans, including Republicans and independents, who believe in what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature."

"I'm joined here today with my sisters Kathleen and Rory, with Joe and Chris and Max -- and with my hero, President Joe Biden," Kerry Kennedy said.

"We are here because we feel obliged to do all that we can. We cannot stand aside. In this election, no American can stand aside. We must vote," Kerry Kennedy said.

Referring to Biden and Trump, she continued, "In 2024, there are only two candidates with any chance of winning the presidency. We know them well."

She along with several of her family members have denounced her brother Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s bid for president. The independent candidate, who officially launched his presidential bid last fall, is famously known for espousing conspiracy theories about the efficacy of vaccines.

Biden on Thursday seemed to relish the joint appearance with members of the Kennedy clan.

"I tell you what, man: This is a bit of a dream for me. I mean it sincerely," he said after being introduced by Kerry Kennedy.

Addressing supporters, he went on to say, "You're my ticket to the White House. You, Pennsylvania. No, it's not hyperbole. You're the ticket to the White House."

The Kennedy endorsement comes as no real surprise.

Although he is the fourth Kennedy to run for president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the only one to have broken from the Democratic Party. Many of his relatives, like Kerry Kennedy, argue that not only is his run an "embarrassment" but that it could swing a close race in Trump's come November.

"I think, you know, this is the most important election of my lifetime," Kerry Kennedy told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" earlier on Thursday, listing Trump's dictator remarks, his boasting of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and more as worrisome.

"The list goes on and on and on," she said. "We must elect President Biden, and that's where our energy has to be."

Kerry Kennedy also said on "Good Morning America" that "nobody competes for the President Biden when it comes to carrying on the legacies of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy."

"I've listened to him, I know him, I have no idea why anyone thinks he should be president," Jack Schlossberg, the grandson of John F. Kennedy, said about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in a video on Instagram last summer. "What I do know is his candidacy is an embarrassment."

Rory Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s sister, told ABC's "GMA" a couple of weeks ago that she was "concerned" voting for her brother would "take votes away from Biden and lead to a Trump election."

Realistically the candidate, who is currently polling at 7%, according to 538's average, has a long shot path to getting into the White House.

Although his campaign has claimed he has enough signatures to appear on the ballots of nine states, including the battlegrounds of North Carolina and Nevada, only Michigan and Utah has confirmed that he has qualified, with his campaign partnering with a little-known political party, the Natural Law Party, in order to get access in Michigan.

But in a race that is expected to see small margin wins, any votes siphoned away from the Biden could theoretically help lead to another Trump presidency.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has rebuffed that concern, describing his White House bid as unique from either Biden or Trump.

Biden, who has a close friendship with the Kennedy family, has steered away from commenting on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s bid -- but in a show of force against the candidate, the Democratic National Committee has hired a communications team to try and undercut his legitimacy with their voters.

It has also filed a federal complaint alleging Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s super PAC is working too closely with his campaign. Tony Lyons, co-chair of American Values 2024, has denied the accusations.

On a call with reporters in March, DNC surrogates called him "dangerous" and a "spoiler."

"A vote for Joe Biden is a vote to save our democracy and our decency. It is a vote for what my father called for, in his own presidential announcement in 1968," Kerry Kennedy is expected to say at Thursday's announcement. "Our right to the moral leadership of this planet."

On Thursday morning, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. responded to the news of his family's appearance with Biden.

"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 in a statement. "We are divided in our opinions but united in our love for each other."

He said, as he has before, that other relatives are on his side.

"My campaign, which many of my family members are working on and supportive of, is about healing America -- healing our economy, our chronic disease crisis, our middle class, our environment, and our standing in the world as a peaceful nation," he said. "But this will only happen if we heal our national conversation, and move from rage and fear into love and respect."

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