Robert F Kennedy Jr has issued an apology to his family members after a Super Bowl advertisement mirrored a 1960 campaign ad by his uncle, John F Kennedy. Robert F Kennedy Jr, an environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist, is running for president as an independent candidate. The ad, which aired just before the Super Bowl halftime, featured images of Robert F Kennedy Jr inserted into the original 1960 ad, along with a catchy tune that mentioned the Kennedy name 15 times in 30 seconds.
The ad was produced by American Values 2024, a Super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited funds in support of political candidates but cannot coordinate with campaigns. The ad cost $7m (£5.5m), according to Tony Lyons, co-founder of American Values 2024. Tim Mellon, a major donor to PACs supporting Donald Trump, has donated $15m to the group.
Bobby Shriver, a cousin of Robert F Kennedy Jr and son of President Kennedy’s sister, criticized the ad and Robert’s anti-vaccine stance. In response, Robert posted an apology on social media stating that the ad was created and aired by the American Values Super PAC without his campaign’s involvement or approval.
Despite this, the ad remained at the top of Robert’s social media feed on Monday morning. Stefanie Spear, a campaign spokeswoman, told CBS News that they were “pleasantly surprised and grateful” to American Values PAC for running the ad during the Super Bowl.
The original 1960 ad aimed to portray John F Kennedy as a balance of youth and experience. Robert F Kennedy Jr, at 70 years old, is nearly three decades older than his uncle was in 1960 but younger than Donald Trump (77) and Joe Biden (81). Despite his famous surname, Robert significantly lags behind Biden and Trump in polls with support around 10%.
Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, noted that the ad played on nostalgia, a common theme in many Super Bowl ads. He also highlighted that Robert is capitalizing on his independent status in a year where the public seems dissatisfied with the two major party candidates.
The Democratic Party leadership has filed a complaint against Robert’s campaign with the Federal Election Commission, accusing it of coordinating too closely with American Values 2024. A Democratic Party spokesman labeled Robert as “nothing more than a Trump stalking horse in this race”.