In Battleground Arizona, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Unites Biden and Trump Voters on Distrust


Hundreds of people stood outside the Phoenix Wedding Hall, nestled between a freeway, a railroad track and a U-Haul rental center, on Wednesday to listen. Kennedy Very little was shared ideologically. What united them was a deep distrust of the media, corporations, and especially government – ​​and a belief that Kennedy was the only person in politics willing to tell them the truth.

"I like that he talks to us like adults," said Gilbert Limon, a 48-year-old pharmacist from Phoenix. “That tells you most of the things you need to know. Whereas I feel like (other politicians) just give you bits and pieces to fit their agenda. I've had enough of that."

are voters not enthusiastic See an opening about a Biden-Trump rematch, and about alternatives like Kennedy or the No Labels third-party movement, which would typically be longshots. Kennedy's appearance on the 2024 battlefield highlights how he could influence upcoming elections In hard-to-predict ways. Aides to both Trump and Biden have expressed concern that Kennedy's independent bid could draw votes away from their candidate in next year's expected general election.

Candidates outside the Republican and Democratic parties rarely make waves if they can get on the ballot early on. But third-party candidates typically do not have Kennedy's famous surname or his existing network of supporters.

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Kennedy made the stop in Phoenix as part of his laborious effort to gain entry into the 2024 presidential election as an independent candidate, which he estimates will require him to collect at least one million signatures nationwide . Aides also joined the crowd gathered to fill out her petitions to qualify in Arizona.

Ballot access for independent and minor party candidates is an expensive and complex process, with each state setting its own rules for access. Campaigns typically hire people to collect signatures and often need a small army of lawyers to challenge ballot access rules and fight back against others trying to keep them off the ballot.

The super PAC supporting Kennedy, American Values ​​2024, has pledged to spend $15 million to help get him on the ballot in 10 states. Kennedy won in Utah, where the lieutenant governor extended the deadline to qualify from January to March after Kennedy filed a lawsuit.

Kennedy is a member of one of the Democratic Party's most famous families – his father was attorney general to his uncle, President John F. Kennedy. But they have recently formed even closer relationships far rightWhere his conspiratorial and separatist views are at home.

Enriqueta Porras, a 52-year-old physician from Phoenix, voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Trump in 2020. He said he is worried about third party involvement. She would like to vote for someone she trusts, like Kennedy, but also wants to make sure Biden loses and be able to vote strategically.

"I don't want to be that person," Porras said, "but I think there's a lot at stake and it might have to happen."

one of the nation Most prominent anti-vaccine activistKennedy has long had a loyal following of people who reject the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective, and they are the backbone of his presidential campaign.

The organization that Kennedy founded, Children's Health Defense, currently has a lawsuit pending against several news organizations, including the Associated Press, accusing them of violating antitrust laws by taking action to identify misinformation , including about COVID-19 and COVID-19. Vaccines.

Rigorous studies and real-world evidence from millions of administered shots prove that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, Deaths from vaccination are extremely rare and the risks associated with not getting vaccinated far outweigh the risks of vaccination.

Many of the dozens of Kennedy supporters who spoke to the AP in Phoenix shared his view that corporations, especially drug companies, wield too much power.

Debra Sheetz first started paying attention to Kennedy when she was doing her research on COVID-19 vaccinations.

“I have been listening to him for many years,” she said. “When he decided to take this big leap into politics, I was very interested because he has a lot of good ideas. “He can really talk about things that people really care about.”

Sheetz, 71, voted for Biden in 2020, he said sheepishly, because he found "more balance, a little more sanity" than Trump. But she is disappointed by Biden's support for pandemic-era restrictions and what she sees as a loss of free speech.

"We've lost our First Amendment," said Sheetz, who lives in Ashland, Oregon, but has spent the past few years traveling the country in her RV. “The most important thing is free speech and the ability to share independent ideas. Other ways of looking at things. If you lose that, totalitarianism is there.

Kurt Eastin, a 65-year-old professional coach from the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, voted for Biden in 2020 but won't vote again. Had Kennedy not been running, he said, he would have voted for Trump next year.

“I like that I can count on him. I think he's honest,'' he said. “And even though I don't agree with him, I know he came to his conclusions honestly. I can't trust anyone else.”

Kennedy is well aware that his fans avoid mainstream media, where journalists often expose the falsity of his vaccine claims, in favor of free-wheeling alternative sources online. He said that he is getting support especially from young people but he has to struggle from people of his own generation.

"I think the problem with baby boomers is that they get their news from MSNBC, Fox and CNN, which they respond to with a wow," he told the crowd in Phoenix. “Whereas young people are getting their news from podcasts and other alternative sources.”

Third party or independent candidates rarely perform well in presidential elections. Even the most successful recent example, Ross Perot in 1992, did not win a single electoral vote despite winning 19% of the popular vote.

Sometimes, a minor party candidate gets so many votes that partisans will accuse them of electing someone who will lose the popular vote, such as Ralph Nader in 2000 or Jill Stein In 2016, both Green Party candidates.

"One of the biggest reasons I like him is because of his stance on partisanship in our House and our Senate, and I like how he's trying to reunite those two," said student Michael Chacon, 23. Want to do." Tempe, who has never voted and is still not sure whether he will vote in 2024. “I think it's a really good idea. I think the cooperation will move forward.”

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