R.F.K. Jr. Super Bowl Ad Echos His Uncle’s 1960 Campaign Ad

R.F.K. Jr. Super Bowl Ad Echos His Uncle’s 1960 Campaign Ad

Yes, that catchy jingle you heard from your television just before halftime at the Super Bowl was an ad supporting a Kennedy running for president, and it looked and sounded almost exactly the way it did in 1960.

A super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential bid ran the ad, which was essentially a reboot of an ad supporting Mr. Kennedy’s uncle John F. Kennedy in his 1960 presidential campaign. It features the same jingle, the same cheerful cartoons interspersed with candid photographs of the candidate, into which the younger Mr. Kennedy’s face has been superimposed.

The PAC, American Values 2024, paid $7 million for the spot, the PAC’s co-founder, Tony Lyons, said. It took about 36 hours to produce, he said.

Mr. Kennedy is running for president as an independent, having left the Democratic Party in October, arguing that the Democratic primary system was rigged against him. His candidacy has concerned many Democrats who fear that Mr. Kennedy — an environmental lawyer who has become a prominent purveyor of conspiracy theories — could siphon votes away from President Biden.

The super PAC has heightened suspicions about Mr. Kennedy’s base of support. A substantial portion of the PAC’s funding, about $15 million, came from Timothy Mellon, a Republican who has also given $10 million to a super PAC backing former President Donald J. Trump.

Super Bowl ads are often heavy on nostalgia — commercials on Sunday night featured vintage Volkswagen footage, a “Scrubs” reunion, and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Boston.

But the Kennedy ad hit a different note. While John F. Kennedy was running in 1960 as a 43-year-old Democrat, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is 70 years old and running as an independent — a self-described spoiler. (Despite Mr. Kennedy’s age, the ad still portrays him as youthful and athletic, including a shot of him on skis.)

Mr. Kennedy has invoked his storied political family and its legacy throughout his candidacy. But many of his relatives have denounced him.

In July, the former president’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, posted a video calling his uncle’s campaign “an embarrassment,” saying the younger Mr. Kennedy is “trading in on Camelot, celebrity conspiracy theories and conflict for personal gain and fame.”

The Super Bowl ad received a mixed reception on the social media platform X. Ben Shapiro, a right-wing writer, called it “shockingly politically astute.”

Robert Shrum, a longtime Democratic political consultant who worked with former Senator Edward M. Kennedy, wrote: “This RFK Jr. Super Bowl ad is a straight out plagiarism of JFK ad from 1960. What a fraud — and to quote Lloyd Bentsen with a slight amendment: ‘Bobby, you’re no John Kennedy.’ Instead you are a Trump ally.”

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