US presidential hopeful Robert F Kennedy Jr will announce he is running as an independent instead of pursuing his long-shot bid to oust President Joe Biden as the Democratic Party nominee, a shift that could complicate the 2024 election.
Mr Kennedy, an anti-vaccine activist and scion of a storied US political dynasty, posted a video on YouTube on Friday asking Americans to join him for a “major announcement” in Philadelphia on Oct 9.
“I’ll be speaking about a sea change in American politics,” he said, decrying corruption in “both parties”.
“How are we going to win against the established Washington interests?” he asks. “It’s not through playing the game” by the current rules, he said.
Mr Kennedy is the nephew of former president John F Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963, and the son of former US Senator Robert F Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 during his own presidential campaign.
Mr Kennedy said in April he would challenge President Biden for the Democratic nomination to run against the Republican nominee, expected to be former president Donald Trump.
‘Merged into one’
Since then, Mr Kennedy has complained that the Democratic Party has “essentially merged into one unit” with the Biden campaign, denying him a fair shot in the nominating contest.
Several opinion polls put Mr Biden way ahead of Mr Kennedy in single digit percentages or low double digits.
Mr Kennedy’s plan to run as an independent instead was first reported by Mediaite, a politics website.
Asked about the report, Mr Kennedy’s campaign responded with a link to his video.
Democrats have expressed concern that any third-party bid could draw votes away from Mr Biden, 80, who faces concerns about the economy and his age in an expected rematch against the Republican frontrunner and presumed nominee Mr Trump, 77.
However, Republicans like Mr Kennedy more than Democrats do by a wide margin, opinion polling compiled by FiveThirtyEight showed, suggesting Mr Trump’s campaign could be impacted as well.
Mr Trump faces four criminal prosecutions, including charges he illegally tried to overturn his 2020 election defeat, and his campaign is bleeding cash for legal expenses.