Robert F. Kennedy Jr launches US presidential campaign

Robert F. Kennedy Jr is JFK's nephew. Credit: AP

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. launched his longshot bid to challenge US President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination next year.

Kennedy, a member of one of the country’s most famous political families, kicked off his campaign in Boston on Wednesday.

“My mission over the next 18 months of this campaign and throughout my presidency will be to end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power that is threatening now to impose a new kind of corporate feudalism in our country,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy has in recent years become involved in anti-vaccine activism and been linked to some far-right figures.

Self-help author Marianne Williamson is also running for the Democratic nomination.

Biden has said he's planning on running again but has not formally announced a campaign.

Kennedy, a nephew of President John F. Kennedy and the son of his brother Robert F. Kennedy, was once known most as an environmental lawyer who worked on issues such as clean water.

But over the past nearly two decades, he's become one of the leading voices of the anti-vaccine movement.

His work has been described by members of his own family and public health experts as misleading and dangerous.

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Mr Kennedy's anti-vaccine charity, Children’s Health Defense, prospered during the pandemic, with revenues more than doubling in 2020 to $6.8 (£5.4) million, according to filings made with charity regulators.

He has previously invoked the Holocaust when talking about measures aimed at mitigating the spread of Covid, such as mask requirements and vaccine mandates.

He has apologised for some of those comments, including when he suggested that people in 2022 were worse off than Anne Frank, the teenager who died in a Nazi concentration camp after hiding with her family in a secret annex in an Amsterdam house for two years.

Kennedy had been long involved in the anti-vaccine movement, but the effort intensified after the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: AP

In 2021, he released a book titled The Real Anthony Fauci in which he accused the US's top infectious disease doctor of assisting in “a historic coup d’etat against Western democracy” and promoted unproven Covid treatments such as ivermectin, which is meant to treat parasites, and the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

The Associated Press reports that he has also appeared at events pushing the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and with people who cheered or downplayed the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

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