A cousin of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Bobby Shriver, pointed out that the ad included images of his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of the candidate’s father and the president, both of whom were assassinated. “She would be appalled by his deadly views on health care,” Mr. Shriver wrote on X. “Respect for science, vaccines and health care equity was in her DNA.”
Mr. Kennedy apologized on X “if the Super Bowl commercial caused pain to any member of my family.” He claimed the ad was created by an independent political action committee supporting his campaign without his participation or approval of his campaign. Still, he pinned a link to the ad at the top of his X feed, which has 2.7 million followers.
No matter how much the ad pissed off people in the Kennedy world, the actual political impact of the ad, which cost $7 million to air during the Super Bowl, is far from clear. “The Kennedys have long been part of history, legend, lore and mythology,” said Evan Thomas, a historian and biographer of Mr. Kennedy’s father. “People barely remember World War II or the Vietnam War. Part of the reason for my double take is that it put me off, but also that most people are barely old enough to remember it.
That said, Mr. Kennedy has scored in the double digits in many polls, largely because of his prominence, political analysts say. And Mr. Kennedy would certainly benefit from being seen as the latest member of this family of Democrats seeking to serve the nation.
Bill Carrick, a Democratic consultant and former adviser to Edward M. Kennedy, the former senator, said the new ad, which he called distasteful, was particularly hurtful because the original had become part of the tradition of Kennedy. This represented a turning point in the way political advertisements were made.
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