The ad ― produced by American Values 2024, a super political action committee backing Kennedy ― borrowed heavily from a 1960 spot for his uncle John F. Kennedy’s successful presidential bid. It uses the same jingle and co-opts the vintage vibe.
RFK Jr. shared the ad on X, the former Twitter, but hours later added an apology to his family after his cousin, Bobby Shriver, the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, slammed the ad. “She would be appalled by his deadly health care views,” Bobby Shriver wrote of his mother. “Respect for science, vaccines, & health care equity were in her DNA.”
Nevertheless, the ad not only remained on RFK Jr.’s X account, but was pinned to the top of his profile as of Monday morning.
“I’m so sorry if the Super Bowl advertisement caused anyone in my family pain,” Kennedy wrote. “The ad was created and aired by the American Values Super PAC without any involvement or approval from my campaign. FEC rules prohibit Super PACs from consulting with me or my staff. I love you all. God bless you.”
Kennedy’s press secretary, Stefanie Spear, sang a different tune regarding the big-game advertising, which American Values co-founder Tony Lyons estimated to have cost $7 million, according to CBS News.
“We are pleasantly surprised and grateful to the American Values PAC for running an ad during the Super Bowl where more than 100 million Americans got to see that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is running as an independent candidate for president of the United States,” Spear told CBS News.
Robert Shrum, a speechwriter for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), said on X that the ad was “straight out plagiarism.” He added: “To quote Lloyd Bentsen with a slight amendment, ‘Bobby, you’re no John Kennedy.’ Instead you are a Trump ally.”
Kennedy, whose anti-vax views align with those of many conservatives, was grabbing 14% of the general vote in a recent poll that imagined a five-person ballot in November. That positions him as a potential spoiler for the expected main candidates, President Joe Biden and his criminally indicted rival, former President Donald Trump.
Here’s the original JFK ad:
RFK Jr.’s siblings denounced his independent candidacy in October.