Presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy Jr. has accused the Democratic National Committee of manipulating its primary election process to favor President Joe Biden.
Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has accused the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of rigging the presidential primary system to hurt his campaign and of bias in favor of President Joe Biden, who’s seeking a second term even as he faces an impeachment probe.
Mr. Kennedy raised serious concerns about the integrity of the DNC’s primary system, accusing its leaders in a Sept. 13 open letter of going “off track” by limiting democracy and manipulating the primary rules to favor their preferred candidate—President Biden.
“The DNC and the Joe Biden campaign have essentially merged into one unit, financially and strategically,” Mr. Kennedy wrote, noting that this would violate the DNC’s pledge of neutrality.
According to Section 4 of the DNC’s charter, the party chairman must maintain impartiality and evenhandedness among presidential candidates and campaigns.
The DNC has indicated that it is backing President Biden as he campaigns for a second term in the White House. In February, the DNC unanimously passed a resolution pledging its “full and complete support” for the president and Vice President Kamala Harris, although that came before Mr. Kennedy launched his campaign several months later.
‘Siren of Control’
In his open letter, Mr. Kennedy accused Democrat Party leaders of having fallen victim to the allure of control, wielding censorship as a weapon against their political rivals and prioritizing political wins over genuine democratic processes.
“Unfortunately, in recent years our party leaders have succumbed to the siren of control,” Mr. Kennedy wrote. “They have compromised the defining democratic principle of one person, one vote through repeated interference in the primary elections.”
“They have hijacked the party machinery and, in recent years, directed the power of censorship onto their political opponents, raising political victory onto the altar in place of honest democracy,” he added.
Mr. Kennedy also criticized the DNC for orchestrating a primary election schedule that appears to favor President Biden by scheduling the first primary in South Carolina, where then-candidate Biden performed well.
At the same time, Mr. Kennedy claimed that by holding the first primary in South Carolina, the DNC was “casting out” votes in New Hampshire, where the first Democratic primary traditionally takes place and where President Biden placed fifth in the 2020 presidential primary.
Also, Mr. Kennedy voiced his objections to the DNC’s actions in Iowa, alleging that they are limiting ballot access and introducing a new system of superdelegates that diverges from the 2018 decision to curtail the power of superdelegates by preventing them from voting on the first round of convention ballots.
The 2018 reforms were advocated for by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former DNC Chairman Tom Perez following Mr. Sanders’ loss to Hillary Clinton in 2016, partly due to superdelegate support for Ms. Clinton.
He also stressed the importance of a competitive process driven by party voters rather than insiders who pick candidates, with Mr. Kennedy asserting that voters deserve and democracy requires such a competitive process.
Aside from President Gerald Ford, no incumbent president has taken part in a primary debate since the first modern debate was held in 1948.
‘Overturning the Will of Voters’
The sentiment Mr. Kennedy expressed in his open letter largely mirrored remarks made by his campaign manager, former Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, in a press release issued earlier this week.
Mr. Kucinich stated in the release that he believes the DNC “has created a class of pledged delegates, called Party Leaders and Elected Officials, who are essentially the same as superdelegates, due to the amount of control the party exercises over elected officials.”
“This puts the DNC, once again, in the position of overturning the will of voters across the United States. It is unclear how overturning the nation’s majority vote could be interpreted as trusting the people,” Mr. Kucinich said in the release.
Mr. Kennedy’s campaign also said Mr. Kucinich sent a letter to Mr. Harrison, requesting a meeting between his team and top DNC officials.
In his reply to Mr. Kennedy’s campaign (as cited by The Washington Post), Mr. Harrison appeared to agree to the meeting.
“I am hopeful that a meeting with our Delegate Selection leadership team will prevent future instances of voters receiving erroneous information that could cause confusion about the equity of the Democratic nominating process,” Mr. Harrison wrote.
“The people have a right to hear from other candidates, with other ideas. This is not a time in our history for people to acquiesce to any form of control over things that will affect our lives and the lives of our children. Candidate suppression is a form of voter suppression, and the party that purports to be the champion of democracy should not be so wary of it in our own house,” Ms. Williamson wrote.
“The Democratic Party must allow President Biden to debate his opponents. The fate of our democracy is at stake, and only more democracy can save it.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.