What the Kennedys *Really* Think About RFK Jr.’s Presidential Campaign

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Getty Images

Here’s what the independent’s siblings and cousins — including JFK’s grandson — have said.

It’s no secret that America’s most storied political family isn’t happy with one of its own. 

Robert F. Kennedy’s quixotic quest to win the White House seems to have splintered the Kennedy clan: Many of his cousins and siblings have called his campaign “dangerous” and have openly endorsed his opponent, President Biden. But the most scathing dismissal to come from within the ranks was recently delivered by John F. Kennedy’s only grandson, John Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg. 

Schlossberg — the youngest of Caroline Kennedy and Edwin Schlossberg’s three children — had previously accused his cousin of “trading in on Camelot, celebrity, conspiracy theories, and conflict for personal gain” in a video posted on Instagram. He then returned to the app to publish another vicious condemnation, calling the independent candidate a liar and “prick.” 

Here’s what other prominent Kennedys have said about RFK Jr.’s presidential bid, and more on what appears to be a family feud.

John Schlossberg

The 31-year-old Harvard Law grad denounced RFK Jr. on Instagram last summer. In a video he recorded while sitting in a van in Australia, where he was vacationing, Schlossberg said: “I’ve listened to him. I know him. I have no idea why anyone thinks he should be president. What I do know is that his candidacy is an embarrassment.”

Then this month, Schlossberg released a series of bizarre online videos mocking his cousin. In each clip, he assumes a different, often cringey, stereotype like “Anthony,” for which he slips into a thick Long Island accent, or “Jimmy” from Massachusetts.

“You know, I’m a fan of his father,” Schlossberg says as Jimmy. “And you know his uncle? Rest in peace, I remember where I was the day he was killed, I mean it was a tragic day, the entire country wept. But listen, that guy, he’s a prick. The new guy, the young guy, he’s a friggin prick.”

Kerry Kennedy

RFK Jr.’s younger sister, human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy, was one of over a dozen family members who endorsed Biden at a campaign event in Philadelphia last month. 

When asked by The Guardian what it felt like to lobby against her own brother, she said: “I feel like there’s so much at stake. When Daddy ran for president, in part of his speech, he said, ‘I cannot stand aside,’ and that’s how I feel. I just feel there’s so much at stake.” 

She also said that she doesn’t think her brother can win, but that his third-party candidacy could hurt Biden’s chances of reelection: “[RFK Jr.] can’t get 270 electoral votes. The only question is not where he stands on a particular issue but what’s his impact on the campaign, and that to me is dangerous because this election, just like every other presidential, is going to be razor thin and we can’t afford to lose one vote — not one.”

Rory Kennedy

The Oscar-nominated documentarian and the youngest of Robert F. Kennedy’s 11 children has the same concern as her older sister — that her brother Bobby will siphon off votes from Biden and sway the election in Trump’s favor — and she’s been vocal about it since the fall. 

In October 2023, she posted a statement on Instagram, which Kerry and her brother and sister, Joseph P. Kennedy II and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend also signed. “The decision of our brother Bobby to run as a third party candidate against Joe Biden is dangerous to our country,” it read. “Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision, or judgment.”

The 55-year-old has given several interviews since, making it clear that she will not be voting for her brother. 

“I feel strongly that this is the most important election of our lifetime and there’s so much at stake, and I do think it’s gonna come down to a handful of votes in a handful of states,” she said on CNN in March. “I do worry that Bobby just taking some percentage of votes from Biden could shift the election and lead to Trump’s election.”

Patrick J. Kennedy

Patrick J. Kennedy, a former Congressman from Rhode Island and Ted Kennedy’s youngest child, has made it clear that his cousin is very close to his heart, though he can’t support his campaign. 

“My cousin, Bobby, I love him and he’s just a great person and cousin to me,” he said at a political event in Rhode Island. “But I don’t agree with him on a lot of his political approaches.”

Last fall, he wrote an op-ed in USA Today, called “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claims to follow in JFK’s footsteps. Biden actually is.” As the title implies, it’s a full-throated endorsement of the incumbent, in which Kennedy also calls out his cousin for claiming “the mantle of Kennedy and Camelot,” while rejecting Biden and the Democratic party.

Bobby Shriver

Shriver, whose uncle was the late Attorney General, slammed his cousin for his Super Bowl campaign ad. The 30-second spot, which cost $7 million to air, is based on a historic commercial JFK used 63 years ago during his campaign, with images of the then-senator from Massachusetts swapped out for photos of RFK Jr. 

That same night, Shriver posted on X: “My cousin’s Super Bowl ad used our uncle’s faces — and my Mother’s. She would be appalled by his deadly health care views. Respect for science, vaccines, & health care equity were in her DNA.”

Joseph Kennedy III

The 40-year-old former Massachusetts Rep., who currently serves in Biden’s diplomatic corps as the special envoy for Northern Ireland, has been one of RFK Jr.’s loudest critics.

He told NBC, “Bobby knows that we stand by him as a family member, while also being able to clearly communicate that his candidacy poses a risk to the country that we love.”

Stephen Kennedy Smith

Stephen Kennedy Smith — one of Jean Kennedy Smith’s four children — listed the many reasons why he can’t support his cousin’s campaign in a LinkedIn post in March. 

“I have known RFK Jr. since I was a child,” Smith wrote. “We attended Harvard together and my father ran Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign for Senate in 1964 and his presidential campaign in 1968. Our family has always worked together, so it’s difficult to speak out against a family member. But when RFK Jr. decided to run he didn’t call me to ask for help because he knew I would oppose his candidacy due to his misguided stand on issues, his poor judgment, and tenuous relationship with the truth.”

Smith, a lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, continued: “Bobby is unquestionably intelligent and can be quite compelling as a speaker. But if you’re thinking of voting for RFK Jr., please ask yourself why many of the people who know him best are against his candidacy. The answer is he is now the greatest risk to re-elect Donald Trump, and that is a mistake we cannot afford to make.”