BOSTON—Just a few miles from the homestead where his family’s dynasty in U.S. politics began, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. officially announced his campaign for the presidency on April 19, becoming the first Kennedy since 1979 to make a bid for the White House and the third to challenge a sitting president.
“I come here to announce my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the president of the United States,” Kennedy said, as cheers erupted from the crowd that gathered at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.
With his wife, actress Cheryl Hines, by his side, flanked by a row of American flags, Kennedy spoke to an audience of more than 1,000 attendees.
The crowd chanted “Bobby” and “RFK,” stood to applaud several times, and listened intently as Kennedy spoke about the history of his family in U.S. politics after escaping British oppression and potato famine in their native country of Ireland.
Kennedy spoke fondly about his personal relationship with President Joe Biden, saying his challenge to the incumbent is a matter of differences about issues such as censorship and public health.
Unlike the political luminaries in his family, Kennedy isn’t known as much for his politics as he is for his advocacy for vaccine safety, which drew significant attention with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines.
His views on vaccine safety were part of his 2021 New York Times bestselling book “The Real Anthony Fauci.” He is also the founder of the nonprofit activist group Children’s Health Defense.
Kennedy is looking to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, who was elected in 1960 and served as president until his assassination in 1963.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s father was campaigning for president against incumbent President Lyndon Johnson when he was assassinated in 1968. Richard Nixon went on to win that election.
Ted Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s uncle and a popular U.S. senator who represented Massachusetts for 47 years until his death in 2009, made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency, with sights set on unseating President Jimmy Carter.
All three brothers grew up in a small house in Brookline, Massachusetts, which is now a registered landmark and known as the birthplace of John F. Kennedy.
Outside of vaccines, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is every bit a Democrat, with staunch support for LGBT causes and abortion.
Kennedy, named one of the NY Times’ “Heroes of the Planet,” is also highly celebrated among climate change theorists, environmentalists, and human rights advocates for his efforts against carbon emissions, negotiating better homeland treaties for indigenous Americans, and protecting threatened watersheds.
Disgruntled Biden Voters
The prospect of another Kennedy in the White House drew a diverse crowd to the historic Park Plaza Hotel in Boston.
Among was them Linda Brierty, who traveled from Connecticut. The Catholic Democrat told The Epoch Times she has been disappointed “since day one” after voting for Biden. She said that she hopes Kennedy will win the Democratic nomination.
“This is about courage, this is about alliance, and this is about leadership,” she said. “Kennedy represents all three of those.”
Brierty said she also likes that Kennedy opposes vaccine mandates, saying that while she isn’t opposed to vaccines, she favors informed consent and people’s right to make their own medical decision.
Although he said he wishes Kennedy would run as an independent, Rhode Islander Eliot Minor said he already has his vote. Like Brierty, Minor told The Epoch Times he likes Kennedy’s views on vaccine safety. He also said he feels like Kennedy would be the first president “to actually drain the swamp.” Like Brierty, he voted for Biden but has no plans to do so again.
Charles Small, who flew in from Richmond, Virginia, was already wearing a Kennedy 2024 campaign pin. He is also switching his support from Biden to Kennedy. He said Kennedy had him hooked when Small read on his campaign website that he was going after government corruption, especially the abuse of its regulatory powers.
Outside of Park Plaza, the reaction to Kennedy’s bid for the presidency was far more mixed.
“He’d be better than sleepy Joe,” a local Bostonian, who asked not to be identified because he is a government employee, told The Epoch Times.
But Washington state resident Brian Walsh, who was dining with his family just a few booths away from the fabled “Kennedy booth” at the local Union Oyster House, told The Epoch Times that Kennedy’s vaccine stance alone makes him oppose Kennedy and that he would like to see Biden reelected.
“I can’t vote for someone who promotes all that misinformation about vaccines,” Walsh said.
Nina Moliver, a local from nearby Jamaica Plain and two-time Biden voter, said Kennedy’s fight against vaccine mandates is the primary reason she is supporting him. “Forced vaccines crosses a boundary for me.”
She also said that “this is about the whole cartel.”
“I’m not interested anymore in the pseudo-left identity politics,” she said. “Robert is a true progressive.”
Just a few blocks away, a group of Suffolk University students who used the phrase “my body my choice” regarding abortion, told The Epoch Times that even though Kennedy was aligned with them on that, they also wouldn’t support him because of his position on vaccines.
One of the students, Maxwell Wright, a political science major who is graduating from Suffolk in just a few months, called Kennedy part of a “draconian emblematic dynasty that needs to go.”
Suffolk University professor Donna Giancola, a lifelong Bostonian, who was out with her students and shared their liberal views, said she is “open to voting for Kennedy” and told The Epoch Times she thought it was good that a Kennedy was running.
While there was never any assassination attempts against Ted Kennedy, FBI files released in 2010 show there were several threats made against the Senator starting as early as 1968, within months following his brother’s assasination.
Security was especially tight yesterday at Kennedy’s inaugural primary speech and for a few tense seconds the boisterous crowd fell silent as an emergency alert system sounded calling for an evacuation of the building.
“Nice try,” jested Kennedy.
The alarm ceased seconds later.