RFK Jr. set to speak at CPAC event

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will be a headline speaker at a Conservative Political Action Conference event in Las Vegas later this month, the conference announced Friday.

The anti-establishment environmental lawyer has run a long-shot primary campaign against President Biden, but he is expected to change affiliation to independent next week.

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has a unique voice in advocating for the defunding of the weaponized bureaucracy and ensuring the constitutional right of medical freedom,” CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp said in a statement. “Kennedy joining such an important event is a reflection of the splintering of the left-wing coalition that has gone full woke Marxist to the point that traditional liberals don’t feel welcome anymore.”

CPAC is the premier event for the conservative wing of the Republican Party, where its annual straw poll carries weight among political predictors. Former President Trump has won the straw poll every year since 2016, when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won.

Kennedy’s support in early Democratic primary polls peaked around 20 percent this spring, but it has slowly petered as campaign season ramps up. Biden does not face significant primary opposition.

The candidate has also drawn accusations of racism and antisemitism with comments on the origins of COVID-19, while also sparking controversy with his anti-vaccine activism and remarks about conspiracy theories regarding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

His expected independent bid could pry votes away from Biden and former President Trump, the leading GOP candidate. Strong universal name recognition and liberal brand could hurt Biden’s case, while Kennedy’s penchant for conspiracies popular with conservatives could hurt Trump.

Other notable speakers planned for the conference include GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, expected Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake (R) and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R).

“We are also honored to have Vivek Ramaswamy — a true patriot and rising star fighting for the values of life and liberty for every American,” Schlapp said. “Ramaswamy has made a massive impact on the political scene in a short amount of time. He comes from the world of business and is willing to courageously fight the woke agenda of corporate America.”

Ramaswamy’s newcomer campaign quickly gained momentum after the first GOP debate. National polling averages show Ramaswamy as the third most popular candidate behind Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and slightly ahead of former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Lake, a 2020 election denier who refused to concede her 2022 Arizona gubernatorial loss, is expected to announce a Senate campaign against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) later this month.

The Hill has reached out to Kennedy for comment.

Tags 2024 GOP primary 2024 presidential election CPAC Joe Biden Kari Lake Ken Paxton Matt Schlapp Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Ted Cruz Vivek Ramaswamy