Several RFK Jr. siblings endorse Biden

Over a dozen members of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s family, including six of his siblings, endorsed President Biden in Philadelphia Thursday, even as he pursues an independent bid for Mr. Biden’s job.

Kennedy’s sister, Kerry Kennedy, praised Mr. Biden, calling him a “hero,” and she referred to him as a leader in the mold of her father, Robert F. Kennedy, who “stood for equal justice, human rights and freedom from want and fear — just as President Biden does today.” 

Her father served as attorney general in John F. Kennedy’s administration and was running for president himself when he was assassinated in 1968.

Speaking for the family members who are endorsing Mr. Biden, Kerry Kennedy had harsh words for presumptive Republican nominee and former President Donald Trump.

“I can only imagine how Donald Trump’s outrageous lies and behavior would have horrified my father,” she’s expected to say, and she accused Trump of “running to take us backwards, attacking the most basic rights and freedoms that are core to who we are as Americans.” 

The president called it an “incredible honor” to have the Kennedy family’s support. He said he spoke recently with Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, to wish her a happy 96th birthday. He also recalled Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and of the inspiration he drew from RFK’s speech about it. 

Several of RFK Jr.’s family members have already expressed their opposition to their brother’s independent candidacy. When he announced in October that he would drop his campaign for the presidency as a Democrat and run instead as an independent, four of his siblings — documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, former Rep. Joe Kennedy II and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend — called his decision to oppose Mr. Biden “dangerous to our country.” In a statement at the time, they said, “Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgment.” The four said of his decision to run as an independent that, “We denounce his candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country.”

In addition to Kerry Kennedy, RFK Jr.’s siblings, Rory Kennedy, Joe Kennedy II, Christopher Kennedy, Maxwell Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, as well as several other relatives, endorsed Mr. Biden Thursday.

Kennedy said in a social media post Thursday morning that he’s “pleased” his family is being politically active, calling it a family tradition. He added that they are “divided in our opinions but united in our love for each other,” adding that the sentiment could also be shared by Americans to “restore civility and respect to public discourse.”

“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. 

Mr. Biden’s campaign noted that the president has long admired the Kennedys and has cited the Kennedy family’s devotion to the causes of justice and human rights.

The president has a bust of Robert F. Kennedy in the Oval Office and has said RFK inspired him to work as a public defender and later run for office.

A bust of Robert F. Kennedy is visible behind President Biden in the Oval Office as he speaks during a virtual meeting with Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheal Martin on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2021. Andrew Harnik / AP

Last month, on St. Patrick’s Day, Mr. Biden gave members of the extended Kennedy family a private tour of the Oval Office and West Wing and celebrated with them and hundreds of guests at a holiday reception. Kennedy family members posted photos with the president, signaling that they stand with him rather than with the Kennedy running against him.

Several of the Kennedys joined Mr. Biden for a grassroots organizing event and helped with voter outreach, according to the campaign.

Gabrielle Ake, Kristin Brown, Allison Novelo and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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