Curb Your Enthusiasm If You Think a Kennedy Will Be Making a Return to the White House
Robert F. Kennedy tells the Sun he is ‘thinking about’ running for president in 2024. ‘It’s part of the DNA,’ he says.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. tells the Sun he is “thinking about” running for president in 2024. “It’s part of the DNA,” he says.
An environmental lawyer and leader in the vaccine resistance movement, Mr. Kennedy spoke Friday at the Politics & Eggs breakfast at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, a traditional stop for presidential contenders.
Mr. Kennedy says he’s “passed the biggest hurdle, which is that my wife has greenlighted it.”
An environmental lawyer and leader in the vaccine resistance movement, Mr. Kennedy is married to actress Cheryl Hines, widely known for her role on the HBO comedy show “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
“If things go great, we’re going to have the funniest first lady in history,” Mr. Kennedy said.
A son of the 1968 Democratic presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, and a nephew to President John F. Kennedy, both of whom were assassinated, Mr. Kennedy demonstrated his political savvy by following a golden rule of politics: The spouse must be on board. Ms. Hines joined her husband at the event. They are next traveling to East Palestine, Ohio.
Mr. Kennedy spent the first half of his hour-long speech talking about political polarization and his work for Riverkeeper, an environmental organization that protects America’s waterways from pollution.
“There is no such thing as Republican children or Democratic children,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Environmental injury is deficit spending. It’s loading the cost of our generation’s prosperity onto the backs of our children.”
Mr. Kennedy would make an unusual candidate for the Democratic nomination. While he is part of the Kennedy dynasty and has spent 40 years working to protect the environment, his views on vaccines are out of sync with the party. He thinks vaccines are responsible for what he calls a “tsunami of chronic disease in children,” from autism to allergies to auto-immune disorders.
Mr. Kennedy runs Children’s Health Defense, a nonprofit whose mission is to expose the risks of vaccines. He has written or co-authored 10 books, the most recent of which are on the “bio-pharmaceutical complex” and America’s bungled response to Covid. His anti-vaccine position has earned him a substantial following since the start of Covid, when vaccine pressure campaigns and mandates became a political lightning rod.
The Sun spoke with several audience members in attendance. Most identified as independents, two said they were Republicans, and none answered “Democrat.”
Democratic Party leaders in the state, though, were in attendance. Mr. Kennedy is a vocal supporter for keeping the first-in-the-nation primary in the Granite State and wrote an open letter to the Democratic National Committee urging it to do so. In February, the DNC voted to make South Carolina the first primary, a move that angered many in the state.
A New Hampshire state senator, Donna Soucy, a Democrat, tells the Sun she attended the event “to thank Mr. Kennedy for his support of our first-in-the-nation primary.” She called his message “interesting and thought provoking,” though she hedged when asked whether she would support his candidacy.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman, Raymond Buckley, tells the Sun Mr. Kennedy’s views on vaccines are “not mainstream,” though he was careful not to criticize him and said he welcomes all potential candidates to visit the state.
Only 32 percent of likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire want President Biden to be the nominee, according to a NH Journal/coefficient poll released Thursday. Mr. Biden will likely not be on the ballot in New Hampshire because the state is bucking the Democratic National Committee’s new calendar and hosting its primary first anyway. This could open the door to a challenger like Mr. Kennedy winning the first Democratic presidential nominating contest.
“I think no matter what the primary schedule looks like we are going to have many candidates on the ballot,” Ms. Soucy says.
The crowd applauded Mr. Kennedy’s unorthodox views on vaccines. “I admire him for being an advocate for the truth even though he’s been labeled a conspiracy theorist,” John Kangas, a Republican audience member, tells the Sun.
A New Hampshire physician, Rebecca Giles, who calls herself an independent, tells the Sun she would “100 percent” vote for Mr. Kennedy. “It’s just seeing other physicians silenced, and he’s against that,” she says. “I am in that regard a single-issue voter.”
Mr. Kennedy also railed against big tech censorship. He says he’s been de-platformed multiple times for posting about vaccines.
“They said I was guilty of vaccine misinformation,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Well, now we know the term vaccine misinformation is a euphemism for anything that departs from government orthodoxies or proclamations, whether it’s true or not. And I will challenge the White House to show me one thing I got wrong.”
Mr. Kennedy invoked his father while discussing tech censorship and what he calls the “agency capture” by Big Pharma of government organizations like the CDC. “My father said this so often to me: that democracy depends on the free flow of information,” Mr. Kennedy said. “It is sunlight and water and fertilizer for democracy. Without it, it withers.”
The potential 2024 candidate ended his speech with a heartfelt story about his father’s death and the train ride to Washington, D.C., from New York City to transport his father’s body for burial at Arlington Cemetery. He described looking out the window of the train and seeing crowds of people of all races and ages standing along the tracks to pay their respects. He called for this type of national unity again.
“We have to persuade people that the Constitution is really important, that we have things in common with each other,” he said. “People respond to that kind of vision. I saw it happen to my father, and we can do it again in this country.”
Ms. McCaughey is a native New Yorker now based in New Hampshire. Her interests include politics, drug policy, and counterculture.