The Epoch Times| by | August 26, 2023
DP News Summary Talking Points:
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of former U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, spoke at a town hall event on June 5, 2023, commemorating the 55th anniversary of his father’s assassination.
- During the event, Kennedy discussed his intention to challenge President Joe Biden in the 2024 Democratic primary and emphasized his aim to bridge the political polarization that exists in the country.
- Kennedy recalled the tragic night of his father’s assassination after winning the California primary, expressing his desire to unite people from various backgrounds, similar to his father’s ability.
- He referred to his campaign as a “peaceful insurgency” and indicated his willingness to engage with individuals holding differing opinions to foster understanding and conversation.
- Kennedy also addressed various policy issues, including his stance on the Second Amendment, COVID-19 vaccines, business closures, immigration, and abortion.
Fifty-five years to the day since his father was fatally shot after a presidential campaign speech, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told a town hall audience on June 5 that he intends to “bridge this toxic polarization that is really destroying our country and tearing us apart” as he mounts a challenge against President Joe Biden in the 2024 Democratic primary.
At the event held at a historic theater in suburban Philadelphia, Kennedy recounted the night that his father—presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy—was shot, his death the next following day, and the procession that stretched from New York City to Washington.
He was 14 at the time and was with his father, who was delivering a victory speech after winning the California primary. His father was shot as he left the stage and died at a hospital the next day.
“We brought him back to New York on [Vice President] Hubert Humphrey’s plane, had the wake at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and brought him by train to Washington,” Kennedy said. “It was usually a 2 1/2-hour train ride, but it took 7 1/2 hours this time because there were so many people paying their respects.”
Kennedy noted that his father had the ability to unite people from different ethnic backgrounds and walks of life and that he would like to do the same.
He called his campaign a “peaceful insurgency” that he said he hopes will appeal to conservative Republicans, independents, moderates, and liberal Democrats.
“During the 35 years I spent as one of the leaders of the environmental movement in our country, I was the only environmentalist who was regularly going on Fox News. I went on Sean Hannity repeatedly—Bill O’Reilly, too,” Kennedy told The Epoch Times after the town hall.
“I want to talk to media members and voters who share differing opinions than mine, because how else are you going to persuade?
“I think we have a lot more in common than what the media portrays. What keeps us apart are things that are rather trivial. We let them feed this toxic polarization. We need to talk. We need to have conversations with people from a wide range of views.”
Kennedy isn’t expected to get help from the Democratic National Committee, whose members voted at their winter meeting earlier this year to give Biden their full support. Kennedy was asked by town hall host Michael Smerconish whether he thinks Biden owes the American people a debate with Democratic primary candidates.
“It’s a strategic decision for him,” Kennedy said about reports that Biden won’t participate in a debate. “I don’t even know if President [Donald] Trump will debate his opponents.”
Kennedy added that “the optics are not good” to Americans when candidates don’t debate because “there’s so many people now who believe the system is rigged against us.”
Polling has shown Kennedy with as much as 19 percent support in the Democratic primary. Several political strategists have predicted that he will generate support from some independents and some conservative and moderate Republicans.
Kennedy’s Policy Views
The views he talked about at the town hall illustrate that he differs from President Joe Biden and progressive Democrats on multiple issues.
Kennedy, the founder of Children’s Health Defense, is vocal about the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine for some in the population who were forced to take them, and of vaccines in general. He’s a vocal opponent of the pharmaceutical industry.
He chastised Trump and Biden for COVID-era business closures.
“We shifted $4 trillion from the middle class to the super-rich. We created a billionaire a day during the lockdowns and you know, it was the last breath of the American middle class.”
When asked about his stance on the Second Amendment, he said, “I believe in the Constitution, and I’m not going to take everybody’s guns away.
“I had two family members who were killed by gunfire, so I understand the anguish and the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. We must figure out a way to deal with it, but talking about taking people’s guns away at this point in history is not a solution.”
Five years before his father was assassinated, former President John F. Kennedy (JFK), his uncle, suffered the same fate.
Kennedy added that over the past three years, there have been “extraordinary initiatives by our federal government against the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech, freedom of worship.”
“And jury trials have been under attack, property rights have been under attack, and freedom from warrantless searches and seizures have all been under attack,” he said.
“The only reason we have anything left in our Constitution is because we have that Second Amendment.”
Kennedy has a more conservative than liberal stance regarding the border crisis.
“We have to stop the crisis at the border. We have to seal our borders. No nation can exist If you don’t control [illegal] immigration,” he told The Epoch Times.
“There’s a lot of different options. The Israelis are using technology to control their borders and doing it very successfully because they have the same problem with African immigration. I want to talk to all the stakeholders before we develop a policy, but I’m going to seal the border.”
Meanwhile, his stance on abortion is one that aligns with the Biden administration.
“I can argue there’s nobody in this country that has worked harder for the rights of medical freedom and personal bodily autonomy than me,” he said. “That applies to the vaccines and abortion.
“I don’t think the government should be telling us what to do with our bodies and dictating for Americans what we can and cannot do in the first three months of pregnancy. It’s a woman’s choice.”
That stance could cost him potential support from conservatives, Kennedy conceded. He also noted that some Democrats might not vote for him because of his views on gun control.
“Some people are going to vote on one issue—abortion, for example—and I absolutely respect that,” Kennedy said. “I’ve seen photos of late-term abortions, and they’re horrifyingly troubling.
“I respect people who have different points of view, and for people who say that ‘it’s the only issue that I care about,’ they will likely vote for someone else