Robert F. Kennedy Jr. faced ridicule on social media after his teleprompter malfunctioned at a campaign event kicking off his independent presidential bid on Monday.
Kennedy, the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, announced his departure from the Democratic Party and that he plans to run in the 2024 presidential race as an independent. Kennedy struggled to gain traction in the polls in his primary challenge to President Joe Biden, who remains poised to win the party’s nomination next year.
Kennedy’s speech got off to a difficult start when his teleprompter appeared to show the words upside down, prompting him to exit the stage to get help from his campaign staff. The moment was caught on a hot mic and went viral on X, formerly Twitter.
“I need my speech. I can’t read anything,” Kennedy said. “It’s upside down.”
Many prominent social media users mocked Kennedy over the viral moment.
“RFK Jr’s campaign is off to a great start *cue Curb music*,” wrote journalist Aaron Rupar, whose video of the moment was viewed more than 500,000 times Monday afternoon.
“People have relied on this man for his internet researched medical advice for nearly three years,” posted Ron Filipkowski, the editor-in-chief of Meidas Touch.
X user Suzanne McCain wrote: “Doesn’t realize that he’s on a hot mic, goes onstage without his speech, teleprompter speech is upside down….RFK Jr is unorganized and a Republican. His financial backing is from Republicans. Just say no.”
“Okay I lied about not giving this too much attention because this is too funny,” posted Doug Landry, founder of progressive organization 50 Thirteen. “His speech on the teleprompters is upside down. And we know that because he’s wearing a Britney Spears-esque mic catching all of this that they’re sending out to the entire broadcast.”
Kennedy is running as an independent after finding himself at odds with the Democratic Party on several key issues, such as the COVID-19 vaccination, abortion and the Russia-Ukraine war.
Independent presidential candidates rarely deliver strong polling, but his candidacy has sparked concerns from Democrats and Republicans that he could pull enough voters to give their opponents an advantage in critical swing states next November. Still, a recent Reuters poll found Kennedy with support from 14 percent of voters.
Kennedy explained his decision to become an independent candidate in an opinion piece for Newsweek.
“Today, I declared my independence from the corporations that have hijacked our government to milk us for profit,” he wrote. “I declared independence from Wall Street, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Ag, the military contractors, and their lobbyists who now outnumber members of Congress 20 to 1.”