By Jeff Louderback
Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. chastised the Democratic National Committee’s decision to “evict New Hampshire from the first-in-nation status” and added the importance of having “a real democracy and a democratic election in New Hampshire” during a speech before the New Hampshire State Senate on June 1.
In February, at the urging of President Joe Biden, the DNC approved a plan to demote Iowa and New Hampshire in the 2024 presidential primary calendar.
Under the DNC’s new schedule, New Hampshire and Nevada will now vote second in the DNC’s calendar, three days after South Carolina opens the primary season.
New Hampshire has a state law that protects its first-in-the-nation primary status, and state legislators have said that they will not move their primary date.
“I’m here because I am willing to participate in this primary in this state. I oppose the DNC decision,” Kennedy said in the opening of his speech.
“It’s more than a tradition. New Hampshire plays a critical role in vetting candidates for the rest of the country, and other parts of the United States.”
Before the DNC voted to approve the new presidential primary calendar, Kennedy wrote an open letter to the group encouraging its members to keep New Hampshire in the first spot. He cited the state’s history of advocating for election transparency and civil rights.
‘System Now Is Rigged’
“There’s so many Americans who believe that the system now is rigged, the economic system, but also the political system, that the elections are fixed,” Kennedy said. “The Democratic Party particularly, ought to be making this election a template for democracy to our country and to the rest of the world.”
Kennedy and author Marianne Williamson are the only declared Democratic challengers who are running against Biden in the party‘s primary.
Kennedy is the fourth 2024 presidential candidate to address the New Hampshire State Senate. The legislature has also heard from Williamson, Republican entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Republican businessman Perry Johnson.
New Hampshire State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, a Democrat, praised Kennedy’s June 1 speech.
“His focus on the primary, I thought, was very significant, very important,” D’Allesandro told The Boston Globe. “He knew why he was here. To me, that meant a lot because he recognizes the importance of the New Hampshire primary and giving everybody an opportunity.”
Kennedy filed the paperwork to run in the 2024 presidential race on April 5.
“America is enduring an apocalyptic tribal polarization more toxic and dangerous than anytime since the Civil War,” Kennedy told The Epoch Times exclusively following the filing of the paperwork.
“And while Democrats battle Republicans, elites are strip-mining our middle class, poisoning our children, and commoditizing our landscapes.
“I will focus my campaign not on the issues that divide us but the values we have in common.”
Kennedy is the son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy (D-N.Y.), who was assassinated when running for president in 1968. His uncle, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Texas in 1963.
His uncle, Ted Kennedy, was a U.S. senator who represented Massachusetts for 47 years until his death in 2009. He made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1980 against President Jimmy Carter.
Though he is a registered Democrat, Kennedy opposes many policies of the Biden administration, especially those related to COVID-19.
An environmental attorney, Kennedy is also the founder of Children’s Health Defense, a non-profit organization dedicated to solving “chronic health conditions caused by environmental exposures.”
Kennedy is a staunch activist about the dangers of vaccines and a sharp critic of COVID pandemic lockdowns.
His views on vaccine safety were part of his 2021 New York Times bestselling book “The Real Anthony Fauci.” He is also the founder of the nonprofit activist group Children’s Health Defense.
‘All-Out Assault on the Bill of Rights’
Referencing the COVID-19 pandemic, Kennedy noted on June 1 that rights in the United States are “under attack like never before in history.”
“In the last three years, there’s been an all-out assault on the Bill of Rights,” Kennedy said. “We now have for the first time, the government participating in censorship, of political dissent of people who are criticizing federal policies.”
Kennedy pointed out that churches were closed “without any scientific citation” and without any democratic process.”
He also criticized social distancing and lockdowns that “closed down 3.3 million businesses “with no due process.”
Kennedy reiterated a point he has made during previous addresses saying that “there’s no excuse for suspending our Constitution.”
Kennedy praised what he called “retail politics” which are a cornerstone of campaigning in New Hampshire.
“But here, politicians get a real democracy. They encounter people. They have to go to the hair salons, the barber shops, the diners, the gas stations. They have to talk to the 80-year-old lady who reads the Financial Times and The Economist every week. and ask them a question, a follow-up question, and another question that they will never get from CNN,” Kennedy said.
“We’ll never get it from The New York Times even, and it’s retail politics,” he added. “They are vetting our candidates the same way that they would vet a city council candidate or a local mayor, and they do it for the rest of the country.”
Kennedy remarked that 42 percent of New Hampshire residents are registered independent voters.
“Those are people who are critical thinkers. They’re independent thinkers, and they’re able to step outside of that fixed, paralyzing iceberg of partisanship that has our country at each other’s throats,” Kennedy said. “They’re able to look at candidates without the ideology blocking their vision and really judge the candidates on what they say and be open to new ideas.”
New Hampshire and Iowa plan to disregard the DNC and stay on schedule as the first presidential primaries. If that happens, Biden’s name might not participate to avoid primaries not sanctioned by the DNC.
“We still intend to have a presidential primary that will be first in the nation,” New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, who is tasked with setting the state’s primary date, told NBC News in April. “Whether the president campaigns here or not is up to him. It’s up to him whether he’s going to place his name on the ballot or not. If he chooses not to place his name on the ballot, I’m sure there will be some New Hampshire Democratic voters who will write his name in.”
On the Campaign Trail
After announcing his candidacy for president in April, Kennedy is in the midst of multiple campaign stops. He spoke in San Diego on Memorial Day and has a town hall scheduled in suburban Philadelphia on June 5.
He told Fox News in March, “Yes, I can win,” when asked about his chances of defeating Biden.
“Private polling is showing that I have very strong support among independents and even Republicans,” Kennedy noted.
A Fox News poll in late April showed Biden with 62 percent support followed by Kennedy at 16 percent and Williamson at 8 percent.
“The public polls speak for themselves,” Kennedy said. “I think we’re doing very well, much better than expected.”
Some political strategists believe Kennedy could secure votes from moderates, independents, and conservatives because of his stances against vaccine mandates, his willingness to speak out against some of Biden’s policies, and his views about transgender athletes competing in women’s and girls’ sports.
“I think that I am against people participating in women’s sports who are biologically male,” Kennedy said in an April interview with CNN. “I think women have worked too hard to develop … women’s sports over the past 30 years. I watched it happen. And I don’t think that’s fair.”
Kennedy is one of only a few Democratic officials or candidates who have publicly signaled opposition to transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, effectively barring educational institutions that receive federal funding from allowing male athletes to compete in women’s sports. No Democrats backed the bill, but 10 refused to cast a vote.
Biden said that he would veto the bill if it reaches his desk, and it’s unlikely the Democrat-controlled Senate would pass the measure.
Early in his speech on June 1, Kennedy recalled how he and his relatives have spent time hiking and camping in the New Hampshire mountains.
Kennedy is scheduled to speak at the Porcupine Freedom Festival (commonly called PorcFest) in June. The annual event in Lancaster, New Hampshire, is organized by the Free State Project, an organization focused on increasing the number of libertarians in the state.
“I welcome support from the libertarians,” Kennedy said. “I have tremendous support in that cohort.”
Kennedy said that he will be a frequent visitor to New Hampshire in the upcoming months as his campaign schedule accelerates.
“I plan to spend a lot of time in New Hampshire this summer,” Kennedy said.
“I don’t think the people of New Hampshire will feel neglected by me by summer’s end.”