Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Unites Biden and Trump Voters in Arizona Through Shared Distrust: A Surprising Alliance Emerges in the Battleground State


AUGUSTA (AP) — Some people chose Donald Trump, while others chose Joe Biden. Before they heard Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on a podcast or YouTube video, some people had never been interested in politics.

There were a lot of different political views among the hundreds of people who gathered outside of a Phoenix wedding hall on Wednesday to hear Kennedy talk. The hall was tucked between a freeway, a railroad track, and a U-Haul rental center. They all had a deep-seated dislike of the government, the media, and especially the government. They also thought that Kennedy was the only politician who would tell them the truth.

Gilbert Limon, a 48-year-old pharmacist from Phoenix, said, “I like that he talks to us like adults.” “Mostly everything you need to know is told to you by him.” On the other hand, I think that some leaders only give you small pieces to try to fit their plans. “That’s enough for me.”

People don’t want a repeat between Biden and Trump, and third-party candidates like Kennedy or the No Labels movement, who are usually long shots, see an opening. Kennedy’s trip to a key swing state in 2024 shows how he could have an unpredictable effect on the next election. Friends of both Trump and Biden are worried that Kennedy’s independent run could take votes away from their candidate in the likely rematch in the general election next year.

Unless they are in the Republican or Democratic parties, candidates who are not in those parties don’t make a lot of noise. Third-party candidates, on the other hand, don’t usually have Kennedy’s famous last name or his large group of followers.

Kennedy stopped in Phoenix as part of his hard work to get on the ballot as an independent candidate for president in 2024. He thinks that he will need to gather at least a million signatures from people all over the country in order to do this. His helpers mixed with the crowd as they filled out his requests to get into Arizona.

Independent and minor-party candidates have a hard time getting on the ballot because each state has its own rules about how to do it. Campaigns usually pay people to get signatures, and they need a lot of lawyers to fight against people who are trying to keep them off the ballot and to challenge the rules about who can get on the ballot.

A group called American Values 2024, which backs Kennedy, has promised to spend $15 million to help him get on the ballot in 10 states. After Kennedy sued, Utah’s lieutenant governor pushed back the date to qualify from January to March. This gave Kennedy a win in Utah.

His father was the attorney general for his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, making Kennedy part of one of the most famous families in the Democratic Party. But he’s become more close to the far right lately, where his ideas on conspiracies and being alone fit in well.

Enriqueta Porras, a doctor from Phoenix who is 52 years old, voted for Trump in 2020 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. She told me she’s not sure how to feel about the third-party question. She wants to support someone like Kennedy, but she also wants Biden to lose, so she might vote in a smart way.

But Porras said, “I don’t want to be that person. I feel like there’s a lot at stake, and that may just have to happen.”

Kennedy has been one of the most well-known anti-vaccine activists in the country for a long time. His supporters are people who don’t believe that vaccines are safe and effective, and they are the backbone of his presidential campaign.

Kennedy started an organization called Children’s Health Defense that is currently suing several news outlets, including The Associated Press, saying that they are breaking antitrust laws by trying to take down false information, such as about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.

Hundreds of millions of shots given in real life and years of careful research show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work. Vaccinations rarely cause death, and the risks of not getting vaccinated are much higher than the risks of getting vaccine.

Many of the dozen Kennedy fans who talked to the AP in Phoenix agreed with him that corporations, especially drug companies, have too much power.

Kennedy caught Debra Sheetz’s attention for the first time when she was researching COVID-19 vaccines on her own.

“For many years now, I’ve been hearing him,” she said. “I was really interested when he decided to run for office because he has a lot of good ideas.” He knows how to talk about things that people really care about.

Sheetz, 71, said she felt bad about voting for Biden in 2020 because she thought he was “more balanced, a little more sane” than Trump. But Biden’s support for restrictions during the pandemic and what she sees as a loss of freedom to talk freely has made her lose hope.

“We lost our First Amendment,” Sheetz, who lives in Ashland, Oregon, but has been moving around the country in her RV for the past few years, said. Being able to share free speech and thoughts is the most important thing. There are other ways to see things. Authoritarianism is there if you lose that.”

A skilled coach from Chandler, Arizona, who is 65 years old, voted for Biden in 2020 but won’t do so again. He said that he would vote for Trump next year if Kennedy wasn’t running.

“I trust him, which is nice.” “I believe he is sincere,” he said. “And even though I don’t agree with him, I trust that he made a good decision.” “I don’t trust anyone else.”

Kennedy is well aware that his supporters stay away from the major media because reporters there often point out that his vaccine claims are not true. Instead, they go to independent online sources. He said that he has a lot of backing from young people but trouble with people his own age.

He told the crowd in Phoenix, “I think the problem with the baby boomers is that they get their news from MSNBC, Fox, and CNN.” The crowd booed him. “But young people get their news from podcasts and other sources besides newspapers.”

Independent or third-party candidates rarely do well in presidential races. Ross Perot in 1992, who won 19% of the general vote, was the most recent and successful example of this. He still didn’t win a single electoral vote.

Sometimes, a candidate from a minor party will get so many votes that supporters of the winner will blame the minor party for helping the winner win. This happened with Ralph Nader in 2000 and Jill Stein in 2016.

One of the main reasons I like him is how he feels about politics in our House and Senate. I also like how he wants to try to bring them back together, said Michael Chacon, a 23-year-old student in Tempe who has never voted and wasn’t sure if he would in 2024. “I like that idea a lot.” It would be helpful to work together.

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