Independent RFK, Jr. says he’s met ballot access requirements in Iowa

DES MOINES — Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he’s gathered enough petition signatures to qualify for Iowa’s general election ballot due to turnout at a campaign rally in central Iowa.

Iowa law gives independent presidential candidates the option of holding an assembly and collecting at least 500 signatures from Iowa voters, with at least one person from 25 different counties. A Kennedy campaign aide announced the results Saturday to a convention of Kennedy’s “We the People” party in West Des Moines.

“We have 686 credentialed delegates representing more than 35 counties in Iowa,” the campaign staffer said.

Those nominating petitions will be submitted to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office for review. Kennedy vowed to return to campaign in Iowa before the November election.

“Thank you all very, very much for getting me on the ballot here,” Kennedy said.

Twenty-six-year-old Natasha De La O of Holstein has been following Kennedy for the past year on social media and drove two-and-a-half hours to sign Kennedy’s nominating petition. “He’s just done a great job at really inspiring me to want to be politically active and there are not a lot of people my age that want to be politically active and I think that’s really important,” De La O said, “because there are things that need to change and I think he’s the one that will bring change.”

Reuben De La O said extremism in the two major political parties is why he’s excited about Kennedy. “Just to be able to have somebody who might be able to kind of meet in the middle with that and actually get America to compromise again is something that I really like about him personally,” he said.

Kameron Cole of Iowa City was among hundreds who waited in line for a selfie with the candidate. Cole said he “got emotional” listening to Kennedy speak. “This is the answer. Why doesn’t everybody understand that this is, like, what we’ve been waiting for?” Cole said. “…I want to be a patriot. I want my country to survive and I really am afraid.”

Eilish Rhinehart of Ames carted her seven-month old baby’s stroller up the flight of steps into Val Air Ballroom and was among the first to sign Kennedy’s petition. “I’m a first time mom. I just said this prayer for something different, something beautiful, something magical,” Rhinehart said. “I’m just one of those crazy people that believes in peace on Earth and that things can go really right and really well for America.”

During remarks at the rally, Kennedy called the political polarization in America toxic. “We need to start looking at each and seeing Americans who are concerned and love our country and we need to give them the capacity to love our country without hating each other,” Kennedy said, to cheers.

Brady Meek and Madison Huck of Waterloo are in their early 20s and have a list of reasons they’re ready to vote for Kennedy. “He’s been doing great things for really the world his whole life, trying to clean up the environment,” he said as they stood in line waiting to enter the venue. She added: “What he’s trying to do for us in the younger generations who are dealing with the chronic illness crisis.” Meek added: “Roll back the war machine that’s been going on since I was born.”

News of Iran’s attack on Israel came as Kennedy was on stage. Kennedy later told reporters that the U.S. ought to be “bending over backwards” to protect Israel.

“The president also has to do everything in his power to deescalate this crisis,” Kennedy said. “…It’s not a good thing for anybody to get into a regional war. Wars seldom solve any problems and they often make them much, much worse.”

While the Iowa Democratic Party offered no comment on Kennedy, Iowa Republican Party chairman Jeff Kaufmann issued a statement on Friday, accusing Kennedy of “peddling toxic conspiracy theories” instead of the kind of soluations former President Trump is offering voters.

Utah officials have announced Kennedy has qualified to be on their state’s General Election ballot and Kennedy’s campaign says Iowa is one of seven other states where they have met the requirements for ballot access.