By Jeff Louderback
So-called censorship and misinformation, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has said, are hurdles that he must overcome in his bid to become president. This is why he travels around the country holding “voter rallies,” appears on as many podcasts as his schedule allows, and now hosts the “Campaign Kitchen” on X Spaces.
“If the only source of information that you have is MSNBC, CNN, and The New York Times, I would have a very low opinion of myself, too, because you’re not going to hear anything good about me. You’re going to hear a lot of defamation, a lot of things that just aren’t true,” Mr. Kennedy told supporters at a voter rally in Columbia, South Carolina, on Nov. 14.
“What we find is that when we can convince those people to watch podcasts and those long-form interviews, that they have very high and very quick conversion rates. People say, ‘Oh, he doesn’t have horns, and he actually sounds like he has common sense,’” he added.
Each segment of the Campaign Kitchen includes Mr. Kennedy, senior staff members, and guest speakers who discuss a specific policy area or topic. Similar to Mr. Kennedy’s voter rallies, he answers questions from the public.
“RFK Jr. is committed to running the most transparent and accessible campaign in history. Campaign Kitchen will offer the press and the public a window into the process of policy formation in the Kennedy campaign,” Stefanie Spear, communications director for Mr. Kennedy’s campaign, said in a statement.
The first edition, which aired in early November, focused on the “state of the campaign” and featured Mr. Kennedy, campaign manager Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, and policy director Charles Eisenstein.
“Our leaders are chronically out of touch with voters. Biden ran his entire 2020 campaign from his basement and even now has answers written on note cards in advance to communicate,” said Ms. Kennedy, who was named campaign manager in October, taking over for former congressman Dennis Kucinich. She is married to Mr. Kennedy’s son, Robert F. Kennedy III. “That lack of accountability limits leaders’ understanding of what keeps voters up at night.
“It’s all about human connection. That’s what has been lost in politics. Our leaders don’t connect with people and listen and find out their concerns and dreams,” Ms. Kennedy added. “A human connection builds trust in a leader they believe in and allows the leader to go into office understanding the concerns and needs of the voters. The Campaign Kitchen is one example of how Bobby will accomplish this.”
Mr. Kennedy entered the Democrat primary in April but announced on Oct. 9 that he would run as an independent.
Recent polls show Mr. Kennedy gaining momentum, especially among voters younger than 45.
A New York Times/Siena survey of registered voters released in early November indicates that in six battleground states, Mr. Kennedy would receive 24 percent of the vote in a three-way race, former President Donald Trump would get 35 percent, and President Biden would get 33 percent. The rest remained undecided or said they wouldn’t vote.
The same poll shows Mr. Kennedy leading President Biden and President Trump among voters younger than the age of 45 in those six states.
Mr. Kennedy registered 34 percent support from voters aged 18 to 29 compared with 30 percent for President Biden and 29 percent for President Trump. Among voters aged 30 to 44, Mr. Kennedy led with 31 percent, while President Biden and President Trump collected 30 percent each.
A Nov. 1 study by Quinnipiac University showed that independents support Mr. Kennedy at 36 percent, President Trump at 31 percent, and President Biden at 30 percent.
Mr. Kennedy was the leading candidate for respondents between the ages of 18 and 36 at 38 percent, compared with 32 percent each for President Biden and President Trump.
Overall, the poll indicates that in a three-way race, President Biden would garner 39 percent, President Trump 36 percent, and Mr. Kennedy 22 percent.
With a strategy that includes voter rallies, interviews with alternative media, and the Campaign Kitchen, Mr. Kennedy believes that his momentum will continue to grow in the months leading to the general election on Nov. 5, 2024.
“We have a year before Election Day, and during that time we need to reach as many people as possible who are not paying attention or have an opinion of me formed just by what they hear in the mainstream media,” Mr. Kennedy said at the Columbia voter rally.
“When people wear Kennedy buttons, put a Kennedy sign in their yard, and put a Kennedy bumper sticker on their car, we’ve found that most of the time they get a favorable reaction, but sometimes people will approach them and ask, ‘Why are you supporting him?’ We ask our supporters to just point them to podcast interviews and let them form their opinion of me based on what I actually believe and say instead of what they hear and see from sources that slander me and print and broadcast misinformation about me,” he added.
The next segment of “Campaign Kitchen” will air on Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. and explore a topic that is central to Mr. Kennedy’s rising poll numbers. During “Why Gen Z Loves RFK Jr.”
“People have asked me why I’m doing so well with young people. The reason for that, to me, is obvious. I’m the only one who’s talking about what’s happening to young people in this country. I’m the only one who has plans to help them,” Mr. Kennedy said, speaking directly to “all the young people” at the Columbia voter rally.
Dramatically reducing chronic disease and making it easier to get a mortgage and experience home ownership are among the objectives Mr. Kennedy has outlined for young Americans. In Columbia, he specifically detailed his concerns about what he called the chronic disease epidemic.
“My father used to say that the promise of the future is measured by the prospects of its young people. Today, the prospects are not encouraging. Chronic disease is high and continues to rise. You look around and ask yourself how many people do you know that have autoimmune disease? How many have peanut allergies, and food allergies? When I was your age, I didn’t know a single person. I didn’t know anyone with ADHD. I didn’t know anyone who had an autoimmune disease. Today, I doubt if there’s anybody here who’s under the age of 25 who doesn’t have friends who are in those categories. We need to address this problem, and I will address this problem.”
During the first edition of “Campaign Kitchen,” Ms. Kennedy addressed why she believes Mr. Kennedy especially appeals to Americans between the ages of 18 and 34.
“When you look back at our history, and you look at young people’s positions, they have always been the bellwether right for social change in this country. Look at Vietnam. Look at civil rights. Look at opposition to the war in Iraq. The younger voters always get it right first, so when I see these numbers 12 months out from the election, I see a campaign that is poised to win the White House in 2024.”
The campaign stops he called “town halls” and “meet and greets” as a Democrat candidate are now billed as “voter rallies” at which he delivers his independent campaign platform, answers questions, poses for selfies, and encourages attendees to sign petitions to get him on the ballot.
Mr. Kennedy estimated that it would take “around $15 million” to accomplish the task of accumulating enough nominating petitions to secure a place on the ballot.
In a Campaign Kitchen segment earlier this month, Ms. Kennedy told listeners about the “grassroots movement” to get Mr. Kennedy on the ballot in every state and Washington D.C.
“If Bobby’s name is kept off the ballot, this is an age-old tactic to suppress independence in our two-party tyranny. But we will overcome it and we have the plan underway,” Ms. Kennedy said, noting that there will be an update on the ballot signature process during each Campaign Kitchen edition. “We are undertaking a 50-state, all-volunteer grassroots operation to gather signatures across this country.”
Voter rallies, interviews with media outlets, appearances on podcasts, and ongoing Campaign Kitchen segments are part of Mr. Kennedy’s upcoming schedule. American Values 2024, a Super PAC supporting Mr. Kennedy’s presidential bid, recently announced it would fund an infomercial detailing Mr. Kennedy’s platform. It is part of a necessary strategy, Ms. Kennedy explained, since the candidate is not getting favorable coverage or “access” to “legacy media.”
“The establishment media has a substantial vested interest in Bobby not succeeding as a candidate,” Ms. Kennedy said.
“He has said he will ban pharmaceutical advertising on day one of his presidency. Big pharma is the biggest source of revenue for the pharmaceutical industry and when you pose an existential threat to the financial model of the corrupt media, they black out coverage of you and they mischaracterize you and share misinformation to undermine you. The American electorate is onto them, and that is why they are turning to alternative media and new media where Bobby can share his message without censorship.”