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R.F.K. Shrugged

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Polls show Kennedy with impressive support among young people and Black voters in battleground states, a budding problem for Joe Biden. Photo: John Nacion/Getty Images
Peter Hamby
February 26, 2024

Over the weekend, I zipped down to Orange County to check out the California Libertarian Party’s state convention. The vibes were what you’d expect: men in ponytails calling for an end to the war on drugs, people handing out Ron Paul stickers and wearable trinkets honoring the economic views of Ludwig von Mises, the freewheeling use of terms like “statist” and “anarcho-capitalism.” There was a local Christian family, hoping to become delegates to the national Libertarian convention in May, proudly displaying a glass case of old U.S. currency, in praise of the gold standard. As fringey as it all sounds, the convention was still more interesting to me than Saturday’s other events: Nikki Haley’s predictable wipeout in the South Carolina Republican primary, and yet another one of Donald Trump’s tedious rants at CPAC.

Unlike those stories, the small-government carnival at the Costa Mesa Hilton might actually have an impact on November’s election, because Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was there, flirting with the Libertarian Party about becoming their 2024 presidential nominee, a gambit that could get his name on the fall ballot in 36 states or more. “Our big challenge right now is ballot access,” Kennedy told me on Saturday. “The D.N.C. and the R.N.C. are going to come after us, so we’re looking at all the options, including working with the Libertarian Party or other parties. I feel very aligned with the Libertarians on many issues.”