Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was on Nantucket Thursday evening for a campaign fundraiser as the controversial Democratic candidate continues his efforts to challenge President Joe Biden for the party’s nomination ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
The fundraiser, which was attended by roughly 60 people, was held at the home of William and Betsy Delphos on Mayhew Lane. The event began around 6:30 p.m. with a meet and greet in which every attendee lined up to shake Kennedy's hand and pose for a photo. Afterward, Kennedy grabbed the mic to speak on numerous campaign issues before concluding his talk by taking some questions before the night ended at 8 p.m.
"We need to unravel the empire," Kennedy said, referring to the United States' budget. "Stop building billion-dollar stealth bombers that can't fly in the rain, and spend that money instead building schools for our kids and pay the teachers and make sure we can educate our children."
Kennedy is an activist, environmental attorney, writer, and the son of the late Bobby Kennedy - who was assassinated in 1968 during his own run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968. Robert Kennedy Jr. was just 14 years old at the time. In recent years, Kennedy has become known for his controversial views on vaccines and public health.
On Thursday night on Nantucket, he spoke on past and current issues ranging from the Vietnam War, the 9/11 attacks, and the COVID-19 pandemic – suggesting that all of the United States' wars and the recent pandemic have pushed the country into a "dystopian nightmare". And he railed against the perceived evils of the pharmaceutical industry.
“These series of traumas have pushed us down this pathway that (former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower) warned us about where we now are living in exactly the dystopian nightmare that he predicted where it's hard to say we're a democracy anymore because so many decisions are completely out of the hands of regular Americans," he said. “The American middle class is being systematically stripped of its power.”
As Kennedy spoke further on the demise of the middle class, one person in attendance yelled “one more reason why we love you and we are voting for you.”
As he spoke more on war, he referenced a question once asked by former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee to Kennedy’s uncle – former President John F. Kennedy.
“Ben Bradlee once asked my uncle what do you want your epitaph to be on your gravestone and my uncle said to him ‘he kept the peace,’” Kennedy said. “(JFK) said the primary job of a President of the United States is to keep the country out of war.”
He blasted the Iraq War, saying the U.S. got nothing out of it other than spending $8 trillion to leave Iraq worse than the U.S. found it, killing more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein ever did, creating ISIS and the subsequent war in Syria, and drove two million refugees into Europe, which he said resulted in Brexit.
“We bankrupted the middle class in this country,” Kennedy concluded. He then criticized the war in Ukraine, focusing on the United States' role in the conflict. He said he has deep sympathy for the Ukrainian people but feels the Biden administration put more energy and resources into prolonging this war than ending it.
Kennedy also spoke about it becoming gradually more difficult for people to buy homes and groceries because of rising costs and interest rates. He took aim at former President Donald Trump but in particularly Biden - blaming the wars and pandemic lockdowns for inflation that has led to homes, college debt, and certain groceries becoming unaffordable.
“You know we grew up in a generation where if you worked hard, if you obey the rules, you’re going to get a home. You’re going to get money to put aside for retirement and put your kids through school. But these kids are going to be trudging on dirt,” he said. “It costs seven times more now for my kids to go to college. They’ll never pay that debt off. Two years ago, this is what the prosperity they brought us looks like but two years ago the average home in this country costs $200,000-215,000. Today, it's about 450,000. It's doubled in two years but the interest rate on those homes has gone up five times. So that home is 10 times as expensive as it was two years ago.”
While he cited his campaign's own polling as putting him closer to Biden than the media gives him credit for, the existing polls show him well behind the incumbent.
Kennedy then took aim at chronic diseases and illnesses, stating these were more responsible for the COVID-19-related deaths in the United States than virus itself.
“We had the worst record on COVID of any country in the world,” he said. “We have 4.2 percent of the global population but 16 percent of the COVID deaths. How can anybody think that is a success story? Why are we giving people medals for this? This is the worst health outcome in the world. Now why do we have that? Part of it is bad management, denial of things that could actually help us, but the major reason is the chronic disease. The CDC said it themselves that the average American person who died from COVID had 3.8 other chronic diseases. They had diabetes, obesity, asthma, and other diseases. Why is this happening in our country and not happening elsewhere.
“The obesity epidemic in this country has transformed America," he continued. "You go to the heartland of this country and it looks like a Botero painting, which is really alarming what is happening to Americans. The biggest crisis in this country today is this chronic disease epidemic, and I’m going to stop it.”
He said if he becomes President, he wants to work towards making the country’s youth proud to be Americans again.
“The poll that was taken last week (ages 18-35) said that 42 percent of young people say they're proud of our country and that is as heartbreaking as any of the statistics that I've been reading recently,” Kennedy said. “I have said to people from the beginning that I have seven kids and I want them to grow up with the same pride in this country that I grew up in. I grew up believing that our country was blessed by God that we were the greatest country in the world. And I had a lot of evidence to support that.”
As for what makes him the best candidate to win the presidency and secure enough votes to defeat the eventual Republican candidate, Kennedy said he can reach both sides of the aisle.
“The biggest thing the primary Democrats want is somebody who can defeat Trump,” Kennedy said. “And Biden’s numbers keep getting lower and lower and lower. What we believe is that when polls come out that show I beat Trump very easily, the reason I beat him is because I get all of the Democrats because they hate Trump. Even if they regard me with suspicion and distaste – they hate Trump worse. And I get huge numbers of independents and Republicans. I crush everybody.”