Robert Kennedy Jr. is a man who has dedicated his life to public service and advocacy. Born on January 17, 1954, Kennedy was the third of eleven children of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy. Throughout his life, he has advocated for social justice, environmentalism, and human rights.
After graduating from Harvard University in 1976, Kennedy began his career as an assistant district attorney in New York City. He later served as a staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, focusing on environmental issues. In 1983, he co-founded the Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit organization that protects waterways worldwide.
Kennedy has also been a vocal advocate for human rights. In 1993, he co-founded the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, which promotes human rights and social justice worldwide. He has also been involved in the fight against AIDS. In 2001, he co-founded Keep A Child Alive, which provides life-saving treatment to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.
Kennedy, also known as RFK Jr, announced his presidential campaign on April 19, 2023, challenging incumbent president Joe Biden. His campaign website states, "During this campaign and during my administration, I will focus on the values that we share instead of the issues that divide us."
He has presented himself as an anti-establishment candidate, firmly believing that the press restricts the public from important health information. This notion is the central idea of the health freedom movement, which supports the deregulation of health practices such as vaccinations.
He also built his campaign around freedom of speech and vehemently opposed censorship. Kennedy has not been scared to challenge the mainstream media and the current ideologies of the Democratic party. Part of his campaign's success is due to Kennedy's name recognition, as many of those supporting him do not align with his views on health-related issues.
Furthermore, with the nation as politically divided as ever, Kennedy presented himself as an alternative to the extremes of the Republican and Democratic parties. Many prospective voters of Kennedy were worried about mass censorship and were skeptical about the authority, especially concerning what was seen during the pandemic. Many of his supporters comprise libertarians, who aim to find someone to amplify their voices. Others consist of disgruntled Democrats dissatisfied with President Biden and Republicans looking for an alternative to former President Trump. Kennedy has declined to criticize Trump, who recently praised RFK as a “very smart guy, and a good guy.” “I’m proud that President Trump likes me,” he said. Kennedy said that he “liked” President Biden as he’s someone he’s known for decades. He has toed the line between the Democratic and Republican parties, avoiding further division within the country. “We’ve got to stop hating on each other,” he said.
Kennedy has been criticized for his views on vaccines and opposition to some medical practices. He criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former Chief Medical Advisor, as well as many Democrats who were in favor of the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporters have been cautious about covering RFK’s candidacy. CNN’s Jake Tapper said on the podcast “Pod Save America” that he would not host a town hall with Kennedy. “He was so dishonest in that experience,” said Tapper, “and since then, he lies about the experience frequently as an example of how the media is co-opted by Big Pharma.” He added that Kennedy “spreads dangerous misinformation about childhood vaccines.”
Despite many major news outlets being unwilling to cover his 2024 campaign, Kennedy has gained more coverage recently as he was a guest on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, and Bill Maher’s podcast, Club Random. Maher praised Kennedy for having the “guts and integrity” to stick to his beliefs.
Kennedy has gained higher favorability ratings than incumbent president Joe Biden and former president and 2024 Republican candidate Donald Trump. Kennedy was viewed favorably by 49% of respondents to the poll with a net rating of 19 points, compared to Biden’s negative nine points and Trump’s negative ten points. In a CNN poll last month, Kennedy garnered 20% of Democratic voter support, 60% percent supporting Biden, 8% towards Democratic Candidate Marianne Williamson, and another 8% for “someone else.”
There is a lot of time left until the 2024 elections, and it is unclear how the polling numbers for Kennedy will change until then. RFK faces a monumental task that no primary challenger has been able to do in modern American history — win the party’s nomination by defeating the incumbent president.
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