CONCORD, N.H. – EXCLUSIVE – As Robert F. Kennedy Jr. heads out on the campaign trail for the first time since launching his campaign for the Democratic presidential campaign in April, he’s pointing to the latest national polling that indicates he’s grabbing double-digit support as he primary challenges President Biden.
“The public polls speak for themselves,” Kennedy said in a national exclusive interview with Fox News Digital ahead of his trip Thursday to the key early voting presidential primary state of New Hampshire.
The environmental lawyer and high-profile vaccine critic, who’s a scion of arguably the nation’s most famous family political dynasty, stands at 16% support in the latest Fox News national poll in the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination race, with Biden at 62%. And the 69-year-old Kennedy grabbed 20% support with the 80-year-old president at 60% in a CNN poll released last week.
Both surveys – which indicated Marianne Williamson, the best-selling author and spiritual adviser who in March launched her second straight campaign for the Democratic nomination, at 8% – pointed to potential problems for Biden as he seeks a second term in the White House.
Kennedy noted that his campaign’s private polling numbers “are even better” and emphasized that “we feel like we’re going to get a lot of independents and Republican crossovers.”
“I think we’re doing very well, much better than expected,” Kennedy Jr. added.
And while he wouldn’t reveal any fundraising figures ahead of his campaign’s end of the second quarter filing in a month, Kennedy indicated that “we’re getting a good response” from donors.
As he’s noted, name recognition may be behind some of Kennedy’s double-digit support in the polls during this early part of the 2024 election cycle. He’s the son of the late senator, attorney general and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy and the late longtime Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. And part of the support for Kennedy and Williamson may be a type of protest against a president whose approval ratings have remained in negative territory for nearly two years.
Asked if he’s urged Williamson to drop out and support his White House bid, Kennedy answered “I wouldn’t ask Marianne to bow out. I think it’s valuable to have as many voices in the race as possible and I think people should have a range of voice.”
“I’m all for having Marianne come in and talk about her issues and have some competition, which is part of democracy. This isn’t the Soviet system where the party picks the nominee,” he added.
Kennedy heads on Thursday morning to New Hampshire’s State House in Concord, where he’ll address the state Senate. Declared presidential candidates from both parties are being given the opportunity this cycle to speak before the upper chamber of the state legislature. Kennedy is expected to take questions from reporters following his address to state lawmakers and then hold meetings in Manchester.
“We’re going to New Hampshire as it’s always been treated, like a key primary, a key indicator for the rest of the country, and a state that politicians have to go to do retail politics,” Kennedy told Fox News.
Kennedy sparked speculation about a potential White House run early this year by visiting New Hampshire, which for a century has held the first primary in the presidential nomination race. He was joined on his trip to the state by his wife, actress Cheryl Hines, best known for portraying the wife of Larry David on the popular HBO comedy series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Kennedy earlier this year took aim at Biden and the Democratic National Committee over their decision to move the New Hampshire presidential primary out of its position as the first in the nation primary. New Hampshire will now vote second in the DNC’s calendar, along with Nevada, three days after South Carolina, under the DNC’s new schedule.
Ahead of the DNC’s final approval of the schedule in early February, Kennedy wrote an open letter to the committee, urging members to keep New Hampshire in the first spot because of the state’s long history advocating for civil rights and election transparency.
The DNC changed the nominating calendar in an effort to reflect more diversity in the Democratic Party, but Kennedy said that New Hampshire already showcases the diversity in America. As a general election battleground state, he said, New Hampshire’s “four electoral votes could decide the 2024 election.”
But with New Hampshire likely to move up the date of their primary – due to a state law that mandates that the state holds the first presidential primary – it’s likely the president will stay off the ballot in New Hampshire to avoid an unsanctioned primary.
“We’re going to New Hampshire as it’s always been treated, like a key primary, a key indicator for the rest of the country, and a state that politicians have to go to do retail politics,” Kennedy stressed. “It’s an important ritual in American democracy.”
Asked about the distinct possibility of Biden skipping the primary in New Hampshire, Kennedy said “I just think it’s wrong from the consideration of democracy.”
It’s been over a month since Kennedy launched his presidential campaign. Asked what took him so long to stump in New Hampshire, Kennedy said “we have to scale up this campaign … we’ve been hiring people, building our staff, building our organization, and raising money.”
“I plan to spend a lot of time in New Hampshire this summer,” he emphasized. “I don’t think the people of New Hampshire will feel neglected by me by summer’s end.”
While Kennedy was once known mostly for his environmental efforts, in the past decade and a half he’s emerged as one of the leading voices in the anti-vaccine movement – and a host of public experts and even members of his own family have argued his efforts have been misleading and dangerous.
Kennedy defended his work on vaccine skepticism, which could be a major liability among Democratic presidential primary voters.
Asked if his stance could hurt him at the ballot box, Kennedy answered that “I’m not leading with that issue. If people want to talk about that issue, of course I’m happy to talk about it. There are other issues that are a lot more important to Americans – the overarching issue of the systematic attack on the middle class and all the things that go with it, the inflation, the war, the destruction of our industrial base in this country, are all things that I’m going to be talking about.”