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Behind the decision to spend $7 million on a Super Bowl ad for RFK Jr.

The Super Bowl ad, nearly identical to a 64-year-old campaign ad for then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, with only images of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. supplanting those of his uncle, was carried out during the year. a few days and relied largely on a large donation from a Democratic donor, the ad’s creator said. News week Monday.

Tony Lyons of American Values ​​2024, the group behind the ad, said a wealthy woman who normally donates to Democrats contacted the organization about a week before the Super Bowl to look for a way to make it known that Kennedy was running for president but was having difficulty. participate in national elections.

Lyons said it was his decision to spend the $7 million needed to cut advertising in 36 hours and buy airtime on the Super Bowl. The donor, whom he did not name, foots the bill for much of the total expenses, he said.

He said the goal was to reach baby boomers, given that Kennedy, running as an independent, already had good results with younger voters. In a college in Siena/New York Times According to a poll from three months ago, Kennedy beat out President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump among registered voters under 45 in several key battleground states.

He also said a dozen additional ads and “infomercials” came from American Values, which set aside $3 million for the effort.

He said the secretive nature of the Super Bowl commercial and future commercials was due to fear of potential backlash against those involved.

“I won’t name names because there has been a concerted effort to punish people who work for or support Bobby Kennedy, or even interview him on their platforms,” Lyons said.

Lyons said Kennedy was not consulted about the ad, but the candidate nonetheless faced criticism online, with some accusing him of plagiarism because the ad imitated his uncle’s old ad .

Lyons, however, called such accusations ridiculous, given that the JFK ad is in the public domain.

He also said that reports focusing on certain family members who disapprove of the ad are disingenuous, given that they come from some members of Kennedy’s extended family who opposed RFK Jr.’s candidacy from the start , in part because of the candidate’s objections to vaccines.

“My cousin’s Super Bowl ad used our uncle’s faces – and my mother’s. She would be appalled by his deadly views on health care. Respect for science, vaccines and health equity health care was in his DNA,” Bobby Shriver, nephew of JFK, wrote on X, formerly Twitter. His brother, Mark Shriver, posted on X that he agreed, “simple as that.”

RFK Jr. declined to comment, although he told X, “I’m sorry if the Super Bowl commercial caused any member of my family pain.” The ad was created and distributed by the American Values ​​Super PAC without any involvement or endorsement from my campaign. FEC rules prohibit Super PACs from consulting me or my team. I love you all. God bless you.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. with his dogs, California
Newsweek accompanied Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on a hike with his dogs in Southern California in July. A super PAC promoted the presidential candidate in a Super Bowl ad on February 11, 2024.

Newsweek/Paul Bond

Nonetheless, three days before the Super Bowl, the DNC filed a lawsuit accusing Kennedy and American Values ​​of illegally coordinating.

“The goal was to let the millions of Americans who didn’t know Bobby was running for president know that he was, and it worked wonderfully. It trended incredibly on social media,” said Lyons. News week.

“We’re trying to make it clear what Bobby stands for – fighting corruption, fighting for freedom and trying to unify the country – because this is information that is so controlled by the media and corporate interests.”

The DNC’s complaint to the FEC says it is up to Kennedy and his supporters to go state by state to collect the signatures needed to put his name on the ballot, but that “rather than resolve this problem by raising the necessary funds consistently with federal law, Mr. Kennedy and his campaign are attempting to take the shortcut by having American Values ​​2024 perform this campaign function for him. »

Kennedy and the PAC have denied the allegations, although Lyons acknowledges that the PAC’s goal is to see Kennedy on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“In a democracy, wouldn’t you want a candidate who consistently scores 15 to 27 percent to be on the ballot in a three-way race?” » Lyon asked. “Would you really want to disenfranchise millions of voters? Panicked DC leaders are working overtime to keep Kennedy out of the election because they know he can and will end their culture of greed and corruption.”