It’s the final week before the Massachusetts primary, and the final days in a tight Senate race between U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III and incumbent Sen. Ed Markey.
WBUR's Morning Edition host Bob Oakes caught up with Kennedy this week via Zoom — en route to a campaign event in Worcester — to hear his final pitch to voters. You can read highlights from the conversation below.
Joe Kennedy III: "I believe we deserve more out of our senator. This is a critical time for our commonwealth and for our country. And I believe a senator from Massachusetts can do something about it, but I don't think you ought to do something about it if you're not giving us your heart and soul every single day. And I respect the senator, but the fact is that I don't think he's given us enough in Massachusetts. I don't think he's given us enough in Washington. I don't think he's given us enough to fight for the change that we need around the country."
Bob Oakes: "Give us a specific issue on which you think the senator has fallen down or not done the job that he could have for the commonwealth?"
Kennedy: "I think there's a number of them. The Henry family: Dan and Angela Henry who came to their senator to ask for help in seeking justice for their murdered son. Next, would be Colin Bower, who came to the senator asking for help to try to be reunited with his two kids, who were kidnapped by an ex-wife. And in the words of both sets of parents, the senator did nothing; dismissed them and never followed up.
"I think it's a problem when we look around our country — and our commonwealth — and see the devastation wrought by COVID-19. I've done hundreds of stops across our commonwealth, I've listened to dozens of small business owners, and they didn't get a dime of assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program. Didn't qualify, didn't know about it, didn't hear about, didn't have a relationship with a bank or a lawyer. These are folks that need that help most. The nail salons, the bodegas, the barber shops. And we're at risk of watching 3,600 different restaurants across Massachusetts close for good. You need to have a senator that's on the front lines fighting for us."
Oakes: "The Republican National Convention is on this week. What is it you most want to hear from President Trump about the pandemic and about the state of the economy?"
Kennedy: "A dose of reality, some humility, an apology. And I don't think I'd get any of those things. I expect that this is going to be another whirlwind attempt to alter reality, to evade any sort of responsibility and to paint a fictional narrative as to how well this administration is doing. We've got 5 million people that are sick we've got over 170,000 people that have died. We've got public health experts terrified about what this fall will bring with regards to the onset of flu season and another round of COVID-19. And a health care sector that still to this day is not fully ready for what's coming. And the president bears responsibility for that."
Oakes: "The president is reported to be pushing the Food and Drug Administration over the slow speed of coronavirus vaccine trials and vaccine development. There's some thought that President Trump may push to get a vaccine approved before Election Day, even if such a vaccine has not been fully vetted. Given that 170,000 Americans have already died from the coronavirus, in your mind, what's more important: a fully vetted vaccine or getting any vaccine out there as soon as possible?"
Kennedy: "I do think we need to have a fully vetted vaccine, Bob. ... one of the dangers of rushing a vaccine through is that if it is not fully vetted and if it is not as safe as we need it to be, or as effective as people believe it to be, then you're going to perhaps give credence to naysayers or skeptics that say 'Well, we're not going to take it.' And we need to make sure that a vaccine is safe and effective so that we can, in fact, have widespread use because that's how we're going to get through this process.
This segment aired on August 25, 2020.