After celebrating making the first of what he plans to be 51 state and district presidential ballots, independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., warned against state officials trying to kick his Republican rival, Donald Trump, off the ballot.
Speaking from Salt Lake City after qualifying for the Utah ballot, Kennedy also told "The Story with Martha MacCallum" Tuesday that the substantive financial investment and building-up of a ground game in the Beehive State offers a great model for a national campaign against two deep-pocketed political parties.
Last month, the all-Democrat Colorado Supreme Court issued a divided decision nixing Trump from the primary ballot, which was soon followed by Maine Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows taking similar action in Augusta.
Kennedy called the pattern "wrong-headed" and "counterproductive," telling "The Story" that while he is no fan of Trump, he is confident he can beat him fairly, and without the "slanted playing field" presented by ballot removals.
"I think the American people want to see a fair fight. They want debates. They want real democracy. They want to be able to choose their candidate, their president, and not have a court choose it," he said.
The Democratic family scion claimed in Colorado's case, the court's ruling was flawed in that Trump has neither been charged nor convicted of insurrection, saying the former president's due process rights appear to have been violated.
"I think it turns Trump into a kind of… a mythological figure. I think it's very, very shortsighted and it's just wrong. It's un-American," Kennedy said, comparing the developments to behavior by governments in banana republics.
As for his own race, Kennedy said the arduous efforts he and his team have had to undertake in Utah and elsewhere in hopes of qualifying for each ballot, often via collecting a threshold of signatures, is likely to help him very much in the long run.
He pointed out most global democratic systems feature multiple political parties, adding that the nation's only essentially independent president thus far, George Washington, warned of the partisanship and influence of outside interests a two-party system would bring.
"It actually, I think ironically, will probably help us over the long term because it's forcing us to develop an army, a ground game in all of these states that is going to serve us well when it comes time to get out the vote," Kennedy said.
Kennedy added he remains confident he will ultimately follow Washington in being the next independent president, saying both Trump and President Biden made the ballot "for free" due to the two-party system, and citing polls showing him within the 10 points of each in three-way, swing-state races.
"Hypothetically, I could win with 34 points if the other two got 33 and it's winner-take-all," he said.
The last substantive independent bid was launched in 1992 by populist Texas industrialist Ross Perot, whose strong showing led critics to claim his closer proximity ideologically to losing incumbent President George H.W. Bush led to former Arkansas Democratic Gov. Bill Clinton's upset win.
Segregationist former Alabama Democratic Gov. George Wallace, running as an American Independent in 1968, and Republican-turned-Progressive ex-President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 round out the last trio of substantive third-party candidates in the modern era.