Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist who launched his 2024 presidential bid earlier this year, discussed the importance of a democratic election and critiqued the Democratic National Committee over the push to change the presidential nominating calendar in a Thursday address to the New Hampshire Senate.
Speaking to lawmakers in the New Hampshire State House – a rare public speech since he began his presidential campaign – Kennedy said it’s important that “we have a real democracy and a democratic election in New Hampshire.”
“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,” he said in Concord. “And we ought to be, 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’s comments come amid his longshot challenge against President Joe Biden for Democratic presidential nomination. He entered the primary in April shortly before Biden announced his reelection bid. Author Marianne Williamson also is challenging the president.
According to a CNN poll published last week, 60% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they back Biden for the top of next year’s Democratic ticket, 20% favor Kennedy and 8% back Williamson. Another 8% say they would support an unnamed “someone else.”
Kennedy said he opposes the Democratic National Committee’s decision to “evict New Hampshire from the first-in-nation status,” referring to the DNC’s approval of a plan to demote longtime early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire in the 2024 presidential primary calendar in February. New Hampshire has a state law that protects its first-in-the-nation primary status. Biden proposed in December to have South Carolina be the first state to host a primary.
“It is more than a tradition. New Hampshire plays a critical role in vetting candidates for the rest of the country,” he said.
The Democratic candidate also praised the retail politics that have become a keystone of campaigning in New Hampshire. He said other states are content with having politicians come in with money from billionaires, heavy advertising and staging occasional rallies that are heavily orchestrated.
“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,” he said.
Kennedy, a longtime vaccine skeptic, mentioned how the country’s rights are “under attack like never before in history,” referencing the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the last three years, there’s been an all out assault on the Bill of Rights,” he said. “We now have for the first time, the government participating in censorship, of political dissent, of people who are criticizing federal policies.”
He attacked the closing of churches, social distancing and government track-and-trace surveillance. At the start of the pandemic, churches were closed and social distancing was enforced across the country to contain the spread of coronavirus, while the government used methods to track cases.
Kennedy began his speech by mentioning his family’s history in the state, including the camping and hiking trips he went on during summers and winters.