RFK Jr.: “I Feel Like We Are Going to Win the Primaries”

“I'm running because I feel like the country went off on the wrong track and we forgot who we were.”
June 14, 2023
Lisa Lake/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had quite a week — and that’s just with his social media accounts. 

On May 27th, Kennedy tweeted praise of Roger Waters, the openly anti-Israel Pink Floyd musician. And eight days later, on June 4, Instagram reinstated his profile after being expelled in 2021 for repeatedly posting what the platform called “debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.” 

Earlier in the day on June 4, Kennedy made amends for the Waters tweet when he spoke to author and former Congressional candidate, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, at the annual “Celebrate Israel” Parade.

As Boteach wrote in the Journal: “Kennedy explained that his tweet about Waters was in response to someone sharing with him a picture that Waters flashed of Bobby at one of his concerts, saluting the candidate’s willingness to swim against societal currents. Bobby told me he had no idea that Waters was a vicious antisemite and when he studied the issue and the facts, he immediately deleted the tweet. I believe Bobby and I thank him for his repudiation of Waters.”

Two weeks earlier, barely a month after announcing his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president,  Kennedy held a fundraiser in Los Angeles at the home of podcast hosts Lowell C. Benjamin and Cathy Heller. Sitting next to Kennedy was his wife of nine years, Cheryl Hines. She wasn’t the only “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star there — J.B. Smoove and comedian Elon Gold were among the attendees.  Actresses Alicia Silverstone and Sara Gilbert attended as well. 

After about 10 minutes where he recounted his courtship with Hines, Heller asked Kennedy about what his vision for the country looks like. “I’m running because I feel like the country went off on the wrong track and we forgot who we were,” Kennedy said. “America was admired and regarded as a moral authority. And everybody, people wanted our leadership. They didn’t want bullying and they knew the difference.” 

Kennedy then made the first of many mentions of his father, New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy and uncle, President John F. Kennedy. 

The next 20 minutes were a college lecture-style exoneration of his uncle’s shortcomings during his three years as President. He went into detail about the CIA’s failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. Then he went into an encyclopedic explanation of his Uncle John’s struggles with his own military advisors and Central Intelligence Agency as the war in Vietnam heated up. He recalled the assassinations of his Uncle John in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in April 1968 and, two months later, his own father. 

The 2024 Democratic candidate, 69, was only a 10-year-old kid when his uncle was murdered, and 14 when his father was shot in Los Angeles in 1968, minutes after he announced his victory in the California Democratic Presidential primary.  

It was all a preamble to equating the cycle of catastrophes over the last 60 years to the COVID-19 Pandemic. “The Vietnam War then followed until ‘73 and the 9/11 attacks and ultimately, COVID,” Kennedy said. “And each of those dramas has pushed us further down the path, which is the domination of this country — that our country would become imperial abroad and a national security state at home. And that’s what the founders of our country have predicted. John Quincy Adams said, ‘America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’”

Kennedy’s most common refrain that day was his repudiation of how the leaders in the U.S. Government handled the COVID-19 Pandemic. “They got rid of jury trials, the Seventh Amendment,” Kennedy said. “They got rid of freedom of religion. They closed every church in this country for a year without scientific citation, with no democratic process, no notice, no environmental fact statement. They got rid of the right to assembly by telling us we had to social distance. They got rid of property rights, they closed down 3.3 million businesses without due process, without just compensation. They got rid of the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against warrantless searches and seizures with all this track-and-trade surveillance and us having to produce our medical records to leave our home or whatever. And a lot of people would say, ‘well it was a crisis.’ But there is no ‘pandemic exception’ in the United States Constitution.” 

Kennedy explained the connection by citing the malaria and smallpox outbreaks during the Revolutionary War between 1775-1783, and how they were very much on the minds of the framers of the U.S. Constitution when it was created in 1787. He also criticized the $8 trillion War in Iraq, which he said resulted in a destabilized Europe and creation of ISIS. 

Kennedy seems to be putting a lot of stock in looking back on the fateful year 2020. “And then we spent $8 trillion on the lockdown,” Kennedy said. He added that as a kid, “everyone believed the government never lied.” But then there was the CIA’s false statements about the American U-2 spy plane crash in Russia in 1960. And the publishing of the Pentagon Papers in 1975.”

“When my uncle was President, 80% of Americans trusted the Government. Today, 22%. And they’re foolish people.” 

“Americans started losing faith,” Kennedy said. “When my uncle was President, 80% of Americans trusted the Government. Today, 22%. And they’re foolish people,” he said to laughter.  

“I can’t tell my kids ‘trust your government,’ because that’s a recipe for more disappointment and disillusion. But what I say to my kids is choose something that you believe in and let it consume your life. I was raised in a family where we were raised believing that our lives would be consumed by some great controversy and it would be a huge privilege for us if we were able to take an effective form of living.”

He cited a Rasmussen poll that said that he was statistically tied with President Biden in a general election.

About an hour-and-a-half into the discussion, Kennedy made another bold statement. “I feel like we are going to win the primaries,” Kennedy said. “We’re already developing a presence in every state. We’ll have organizations in every state. I’m going to fight very hard in the initial five states, which are South Carolina, New Hampshire, Georgia, Nevada and Michigan.” He cited a Rasmussen poll that said that he was statistically tied with President Biden.

“I think many Democrats will see that the President [Biden] has a very high chance of not beating Trump and that I have a much, much better chance of beating Trump,” Kennedy said. “If you were Trump, who would you rather debate? Me or President Biden?”

If he is elected President, Kennedy said that his top priority is going to be de-escalating conflict in Ukraine “very quickly … If it’s still going on and assuming that we haven’t had a nuclear exchange by then and the destroy planet,” Kennedy said. “China is a huge threat to us, but does not want to confront us militarily, it wants to confront us and bury us economically. And it’s doing it. And I don’t have any fear or any trepidation going head-to-head with China on an economic deal. That’s what we ought to be doing. We ought to be de-escalating the military and letting them know that’s not an option for us. We’ll fight you with our entrepreneurship, with America’s special genius.”

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