On Wednesday, anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of former U.S. attorney general and unsuccessful 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, declared his long-shot run for the Democratic nomination for president.
Kennedy emphasized his 30 years of experience as an environmental lawyer in a lecture in Boston, where he claimed that the nation was experiencing toxic divisiveness.
He notably omitted, however, to mention either his personal anti-vaccine beliefs or the Children’s Health Defense, a group identified by studies as one of the most effective disseminators of anti-vaccine misinformation.
The group’s accounts were deleted from Facebook and Instagram for distributing false material. His anti-vaccine crusade has drawn criticism from members of the very close-knit Kennedy family, and he joked Wednesday that they were not present.
However, most of his speech was devoted to criticizing the reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly lockdowns, calling them the most important transfer of wealth in the nation and asserting that they were ineffective. He criticized Donald Trump, a former president, for giving in to red tape.
“A lot of people say President Trump gets blamed for many things that he didn’t do. And he gets blamed for some things that he did do. But the worst thing that he did to this country, to our civil rights, to our economy, to the middle class is lockdowns,” Kennedy said.
Robert F. Kennedy had frequently criticized the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and at a 2022 event, he remarked that “even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. Like Anne Frank did, you could take refuge in an attic. He later expressed regret for the statements.
Kennedy criticized the American healthcare system in his speech on Wednesday and vowed to end the “chronic disease epidemic as president.”
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According to an earlier story by CBS News, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon had been urging Kennedy to run for office for months because he thought he might serve as a valuable chaos agent in the 2024 contest and be a well-known figure who could help fuel anti-vaccine sentiment across the nation.
Kennedy has featured on InfoWars and has been associated with far-right figures. Additionally, he has made appearances at gatherings that promoted the false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and with supporters of the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Kennedy attempted to establish a connection with the Democratic Party at the announcement on Wednesday by referring to himself as a “Kennedy Democrat.” Dennis Kucinich, a two-time candidate for president and former congressman, and his wife, the actress Cheryl Hines, presented him.
Kennedy officially declared his campaign at the Park Plaza in Boston after submitting a statement of candidacy to the Federal Election Commission in early April. His campaign reported that more paperwork was submitted to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday in order to advance the procedure.
Kennedy’s attempt to unseat Vice President Biden is unlikely to succeed, and the vast majority of Democrats disagree with his anti-vaccine attitude. Marianne Williamson, a self-help author who campaigned for office in 2020, has also declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination.
It’s unclear at this time whether other Democrats who could run a greater risk of unseating Mr. Biden will enter the contest. The White House and the president have hinted that he will run for reelection, but he hasn’t officially declared it.
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