Across the Oval Office from President Joe Biden's fine mahogany desk sits a small, discreet bust of Robert Kennedy, the brother of President John Kennedy and the man whom Biden calls a hero and his North Star for policies that address the best interests of people.
Now the eldest son of Robert Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is mounting a presidential challenge to Biden. What began as a sort of nuisance challenge in the Democratic primary quickly morphed into an independent presidential bid — and a potential problem for both Biden and former President Donald Trump. With his famous name and none-of-the-above platform, Kennedy just posted a healthy 22% share of the vote in two recent national polls that tested a three-way race between Kennedy, Biden and Trump.
It's not exactly clear who Kennedy would damage the most since his hodgepodge of policies seem to draw as much from Trump's COVID skeptics as Biden's progressive base. Add to that a plurality of independent voters, as Kennedy did in those polls, and you've got a potential race on your hands.
Kennedy has made it clear in several interviews recently that Georgia is one of five battleground states he's most focused on. It may surprise you to know that he's already been to Georgia more this year than Trump and Biden combined.?
We know he's got the famous last name and blue eyes of the Kennedys, but is he an eccentric kook, as he's often portrayed in the media, or an independent's' savior? He's offered a trail of clues during his visits here so far.
"I'm not doing this to serve some need for my ego, I'm doing this because I know I can change this country and bring it back," he told attendees at his Duluth rally.
At that event and others he focused heavily on economic issues like home ownership, which many voters under 30 could tell you feels more out of reach than ever.
"When Americans become renters, we go from citizens to serfs on our own land, where the big shots own all the land and all the homes," he says in one social media post.
But he's also got more than the average bear's level of conspiracy-adjacent language.
Spread across his message of unity are lots of "theys" — the bankers and the billionaires he said are behind nearly everything wrong in America over the last 50 years, from the Vietnam War to 9/11 to COVID.
And what about the vaccines? He said in a recent interview on The NewsHour that his position as an anti-vaxxer has been overblown by the media. He said in the same interview he considers all abortions a tragedy, but that the decision ought to stay with women. He said he'd "seal" the Southern border and create a universal "passport card" for all Americans to easily prove their work status at jobs.
So is he wonderful? Or a weirdo? His family members seem to think he's the latter.
On the day he announced he'd swapped from a Democratic bid to an independent bid, which could turn him into a spoiler for Joe Biden, his siblings called his run against Biden dangerous for the country.
"Bobby might share the same name as our father," they wrote in a statement. "But he does not share the same values, vision or judgment. Today's announcement is deeply saddening for us. We denounce his candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country."
They're all voting for Biden. But they're not speaking for all Americans or even all Democrats.
Could he be a spoiler? Of course. But he doesn't seem to care.
There's no way to know now whether Kennedy will be the next Ralph Nader, the next Ross Perot, or greater or less than them both.
But he's sitting high enough in the polls now that Biden and Trump should understand that Robert Kennedy's son isn't satisfied with being in the background in the Oval Office. He wants to be out front.