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RFK Jr. tells NH crowd he’s considering a presidential run

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire on March 3. (Josh Rogers/NHPR)
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire on March 3. (Josh Rogers/NHPR)

During a visit to St. Anselm College Friday, environmental activist and vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. told a capacity crowd that he’s considering a presidential run.

“I’m thinking about it, and I’ve passed the biggest hurdle, which is my wife has green lighted it,” Kennedy said to cheers after a morning speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

During his hour-long remarks, Kennedy stressed his work as an environmental activist and his family’s role in modern American politics.

“We can’t advance ourselves as a people by leaving our poorer brothers and sisters behind. The things that define our nation are these communities, and they are based on the constitution.”

Throughout, Kennedy also offered scathing critiques of the corruption he says has infected how the federal government handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and led to chronic failures to regulate big businesses from technology to drug companies.

“We pay more for medicine and more for pharmaceuticals. We consume three times more pharmaceutical drugs than other Western nations, and we have the worst health outcomes,” Kenndy said.

Kennedy added that his criticisms of those in power led to his being “deplatformed” on social media. Instagram barred Kennedy for spreading vaccine misinformation in 2021. He also issued dire warnings about partisan political divides he characterized as “very very tribal.”

“We have probably the greatest polarization in our country’s history that we’ve ever had since the Civil War, really dangerous polarization.” Kennedy warned.

Kennedy also reiterated his defense of New Hampshire’s lead off place in the presidential nominating calendar.

The Democratic National Committee voted last month to move South Carolina into the first primary slot.

Kennedy praised New Hampshire’s role in vetting candidates, and criticized President Joe Biden for proposing that calendar.

“We have the president of our party, the President of the United States, who feels like he needs to move this primary to a state where he can better control the outcome. What does that say to people?”

Kennedy is 69, and lives in Los Angeles. In addition to his work as an environmentalist, he’s taught law school, and has written numerous books. Among them are a children’s biography of St. Francis of Assisi, works on climate change, and critiques of George W. Bush, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

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Kennedy’s audience Friday reflected that range of interests.

It included state Democratic party chairman Ray Buckley, a high school class from Winchester, environmentalists, and vaccine skeptics.

Kennedy told the crowd that years of activism has made him keenly aware of what he can and can’t control.

“I try not to get involved in outcomes or have expectations,” Kennedy said. ”If you don't have expectations, you are never going to get disappointed.”

After he spoke, Kennedy signed books and posed for pictures. He said he would soon travel to East Palestine, Ohio where a freight trail containing toxic chemicals derailed last month.

While polling suggests most New Hampshire Democrats approve of the job President Biden is doing, plenty would prefer someone else be the party’s standard bearer next year.

Author Marianne Williamson, who ran in 2020, announced a 2024 bid this week.

Should Biden do as expected and run again, unseating him would be a long shot for any candidate.

But some of Biden’s staunchest 2020 backers turned out Friday to hear Kennedy. Several said it was a mistake to write off Kennedy prematurely.

“He’s got the name, and that opens a lot of doors,” said longtime Democratic state senator Lou D’Allesandro.

This story is a production of the New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by New Hampshire Public Radio.

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