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Kerry Kennedy Leads ‘Heart-Wrenching’ Campaign Against Her Brother’s White House Bid

Kerry Kennedy Leads ‘Heart-Wrenching’ Campaign Against Her Brother’s White House Bid


When members of the Kennedy household joined President Biden in Philadelphia to endorse his re-election — and denounce the presidential candidacy of the best-known Kennedy of this era, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — one individual stepped ahead to make the household’s case: his youthful sister Kerry.

“Nearly each single grandchild of Joe and Rose Kennedy helps Joe Biden,” Ms. Kennedy mentioned as her siblings, and Mr. Biden, flanked her onstage. “That’s proper: The Kennedy household endorses Joe Biden for president.”

That was not the primary time that Ms. Kennedy, the seventh youngster of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, had been the face of the household’s pushback towards her brother. As Mr. Kennedy has emerged as a skeptic of Covid-19 vaccines and a purveyor of conspiratorial theories on the assassination of his father, it has fallen to Ms. Kennedy to distance her household from the brother she has lengthy held shut and to protect the legacy of a proud and personal household because it fades from the political stage.

To a big extent, Ms. Kennedy’s siblings say, her outsize position is an outgrowth of the love she has displayed towards her brother since they had been youngsters taking part in on the grounds of the household property in Hickory Hill, Va. — and the frustration she feels now. It is political as effectively: She argues that her brother’s rebel marketing campaign threatens the re-election of Mr. Biden and is conscious that her household may shoulder among the blame ought to Donald J. Trump return to the White House subsequent yr.

“I really like Bobby,” she mentioned in an interview. “It’s heart-wrenching to be on this place.”

But Kerry Kennedy’s determination to assist lead an inevitably awkward effort towards a member of the family additionally displays her concern concerning the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the group based upon her father’s dying in 1968 that she has led for 15 years.

As its president, she has championed causes that mirrored her father’s work: worldwide human rights, preventing towards disparities in well being care and advocating for immigrants. In some instances, the positions which have been embraced by her brother, notably his opposition to Covid vaccination, have run immediately counter to the mission of the group.

“Kerry feels a particular burden together with his candidacy — a burden that impacts her work in a unfavourable manner,” mentioned Christopher G. Kennedy, one in every of their brothers. “She has supported tons of of human rights activists all over the world. Her talents could be diminished if the Kennedy identify is related to fringe pondering, crackpot concepts and unsound judgment.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. declined to touch upon his sister’s position within the Biden marketing campaign. “I believe I’ll keep out of this controversy,” he mentioned in a textual content message.

It has been 56 years since Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. But Ms. Kennedy, 64, mentioned that many individuals, notably youthful generations, not distinguished between a father and a son who share the identical identify.

“Anybody can go take a look at the responses on my X feed or Instagram and see there’s a number of confusion on the market,” she mentioned within the interview. “I’ve been compelled to make clear when the group differs on points reminiscent of the protection of vaccines, the position of H.I.V. in inflicting AIDS, the rationale individuals are transgender and the position of platforms curbing disinformation, to call a number of.”

Ms. Kennedy’s view on the potential impression of her brother’s candidacy isn’t shared throughout the household. “I believe the error the media makes is to suppose that his attraction to folks is solely based mostly on his relationship to our household,” mentioned Douglas H. Kennedy, one other of their brothers, who has not joined his siblings within the pushback as a result of, he mentioned, of his work as a correspondent on Fox News. “I consider his followers are unaffected by his siblings’ or cousins’ considerations. His supporters consider in his message. I don’t suppose folks popping out towards him may have an ideal impact on that assist.”

The Biden marketing campaign disagrees. It is transferring to deploy Ms. Kennedy, in addition to different relations, in swing states within the coming months if her brother continues to make it onto ballots. “I’ve instructed the Biden marketing campaign that I’ll marketing campaign wherever they need me to go,” she mentioned.

Biden marketing campaign officers mentioned their polling confirmed that many individuals have no idea a lot about Mr. Kennedy or what he stands for, and that Kennedy relations are notably efficient at filling within the gaps.

We’re honored to have the Kennedys’ assist, and we stay up for working with them to unfold the message on the marketing campaign path about how the president is carrying on the Kennedy legacy,” Lauren Hitt, a marketing campaign spokeswoman, mentioned.

Ms. Kennedy isn’t any stranger to being within the highlight. Her marriage to Andrew M. Cuomo in 1990, earlier than he was elected governor of New York, was a merger of two of the nation’s most well-known political households. It occurred within the church in Washington, D.C., the place John F. Kennedy’s funeral was held in 1963 as digital camera crews and photographers waited exterior. That union led to divorce 15 years later, the small print of the breakup strewn throughout the tabloids. She by no means remarried.

Seven years after the top of the wedding, Ms. Kennedy was arrested and charged with driving whereas below the affect in northern Westchester County, N.Y. She mentioned she had mistakenly taken a single sleeping capsule earlier than coming into her automotive. A jury took lower than an hour to seek out her not responsible, however the case made her life tabloid fodder as soon as once more.

Ms. Kennedy endured however largely stayed out of the general public highlight — in contrast to lately.

Her earnest attraction for Mr. Biden — the timbre of her voice acquainted to anybody who watched her father or uncle — has supplied a distinction to a sequence of mocking Instagram posts by John F. Kennedy’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, 31, during which he employs quite a lot of accents to belittle his cousin as disingenuous and unintelligent.

On social media, Ms. Kennedy’s posts embrace clips of her father’s speeches, odes to human rights leaders reminiscent of John Lewis and tributes to her 96-year-old mom. (“Mummy is a masterclass in championing the rights of others,” she wrote lately.) Ms. Kennedy mentioned she had not spoken to Mr. Schlossberg about his posts.

Ms. Kennedy now finds herself driving the crest of what’s an uncommon second for a household that prides itself on conserving inside dissent out of the general public eye.

“They’ve all the time discovered from J.F.Ok.’s era that you simply maintain all of the unhealthy issues which might be contained in the household contained in the household,” mentioned Laurence Leamer, who has written a sequence of books on the Kennedy household. “That is ending right here.”

But by means of all of it, the household has sought to stay collectively. “This isn’t towards Bobby — that is for Biden,” mentioned Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, an older sister. “We’ve been for Biden a very long time.”

Kerry Kennedy, mentioned she nonetheless noticed her brother at household occasions, together with on the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass. “Bobby was as much as the Cape a number of instances final summer time,” she mentioned. “We had been each in Aspen on trip and sitting across the lunch desk. We ship texts — now we have a household textual content change — so there’s backwards and forwards. But he’s not calling me for my recommendation.”

Christopher Kennedy mentioned he continuously shared his considerations together with his brother about what he was doing. “People confront me on the grocery retailer — ‘Why are you letting your brother get away with this?’” he mentioned. “I believe we are going to all get blamed if Bobby causes this final result to happen.”

“I’d say that, like all true believers, he’s unreachable,” he mentioned. “That hardening of the shell has undoubtedly occurred.”

Ms. Kennedy mentioned she was resigned to the truth that her brother was pushing on by means of the election and even advised that she had come to simply accept — or at the very least perceive — this newest marketing campaign by a Kennedy.

“In the top, why is he on the market doing this?” she mentioned. “For the identical cause I’m on the market. Because we each consider the stakes are excessive.”

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