How Much of a Threat Is Kennedy to Biden?

By Michelle Goldberg

Produced by Jillian Weinberger

The columnist Michelle Goldberg recently reported from a rally for the independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. She entered the event believing he would be a spoiler in the election, but whose chances might he spoil — President Biden’s or Donald Trump’s? In this audio essay, hear what Kennedy’s supporters told her about what’s motivating them.

Below is a lightly edited transcript of the audio piece.

“The Opinions” is a collection of audio essays from Times Opinion. To listen to this piece, click the play button below.

How Much of a Threat Is Kennedy to Biden?

The columnist Michelle Goldberg reports on Robert F. Kennedy’s coalition of the alienated.

Open this article in the New York Times Audio app on iOS.

Michelle Goldberg: I’m Michelle Goldberg. I’m a columnist for the New York Times Opinion section. I recently went to a rally for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Oakland, Calif.

[TAPE OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.] We need to sit with each other and listen to the feelings and not walk away. And not see each other as enemies. And learn to love each other, even through that anger and vitriol. We need to start coming back to each other as Americans again.

Michelle Goldberg: It was at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, this huge auditorium that wasn’t anywhere close to full, although there were hundreds of people there, people who had very eccentric politics. I witnessed one interesting exchange outside, where somebody was collecting signatures to try to reinstate California’s three-strikes laws, basically to make criminal penalties stricter in California. And he went up to these two white-haired men, who really blanched, and they were like, “No, we’re from the left. We have no interest in law-and-order crackdowns.” One of them was wearing a button that said, “Ask me about 9/11,” which I actually didn’t because I didn’t have that much time.

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