RFK Jr. Recalls Father’s Assassination, Defends Second Amendment at Town Hall

RFK Jr. Recalls Father’s Assassination, Defends Second Amendment at Town Hall
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appeared with SiriusXM talk show host Michael Smerconish at a town hall in suburban Philadelphia on June 5, 2023. (Jeff Louderback/The Epoch Times)

Fifty-five years to the day that his father was shot after a presidential campaign speech, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told a town hall audience on June 5 that he intends to “bridge this toxic polarization that is really destroying our country and tearing us apart” as he mounts a challenge against President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary.

At the event held at a historic theater in suburban Philadelphia, Kennedy recounted the night that his father, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, was shot, his death the next following day, and the procession that stretched from New York City to Washington.

Kennedy was 14 at the time and was with his father delivering a victory speech after winning the California primary. He was shot as he left the stage and died in hospital the next day.

“We brought him back to New York on [Vice President] Hubert Humphrey’s plane, had the wake at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and brought him by train to Washington,” Kennedy said. “It was usually a two-and-a-half-hour train ride, but it took seven and a half hours this time because there were so many people along their respects.”

Kennedy noted that his father had the ability to unite people from different ethnic backgrounds and walks of life, and that he would like to do the same.

He calls his campaign a “peaceful insurgency” that he hopes will appeal to conservative Republicans, independents, moderates, and liberal Democrats.

“During the 35 years I spent as one of the leaders on the environmental movement in our country, I was the only environmentalist who was regularly going on Fox News. I went on Sean Hannity repeatedly, Bill O’Reilly, too,” Kennedy told The Epoch Times after the town hall. “I want to talk to media members and voters who share differing opinions than mine because how else are you going to persuade?

“I think we have a lot more in common than what the media portrays. What keeps us apart are things that are rather trivial,” he added. “We let them feed this toxic polarization. We need to talk. We need to have conversations with people from a wide range of views.”

The Competition

Kennedy is not expected to get help from the Democratic National Committee, whose members voted at their winter meeting earlier this year to give Biden their full support. Kennedy was asked by town hall host Michael Smerconish if he thinks Biden owes the American people a debate with Democratic primary candidates.

“It’s a strategic decision for him,” Kennedy said about reports that Biden will not participate in a debate. “I don’t even know if President Trump will debate his opponents.”

Kennedy added that “the optics are not good” to Americans when candidates do not debate because “three’s so many people now who believe the system is rigged against us.”

Polling has shown Kennedy with as much as 19 percent support in the Democratic presidential primary. Several political strategists have said they believe he will generate support from some conservative and moderate Republicans, and independents.

Kennedy’s Policy Views

The views he talked about at the town hall illustrate that he differs from President Joe Biden and progressive Democrats on multiple issues.

Kennedy, the founder of Children’s Health Defense, is widely known as a vocal advocate about the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine for some in the population who were forced to take them, and vaccines in general. He is a vocal opponent of the pharmaceutical industry.

He chastised Trump and Biden for COVID-era business closures and said, “We shifted $4 trillion from the middle class to the super-rich. We created a billionaire a day during the lockdowns and you know, it was the last breath of the American middle class.”

When asked about his stance on the Second Amendment, he said, “I believe in the Constitution and I’m not going to take everybody’s guns away.

“I had two family members who were killed by gunfire, so I understand the anguish and the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. We must figure out a way to deal with it but talking about taking people’s guns away at this point in history is not a solution,” he said.

Five years before his father was shot and killed, former President John F. Kennedy (JFK), his uncle, suffered the same fate.

Over the past three years, Kennedy added, “We’ve seen extraordinary initiatives by our federal government against the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech, freedom of worship. And jury trials have been under attack, property rights have been under attack, and freedom from warrantless searches and seizures have all been under attack.

“The only reason we have anything left in our Constitution is because we have that Second Amendment,” he noted.

Kennedy also shares a stance about the border crisis that is more reflective of conservative legislators.

“We have to stop the crisis at the border. We have to seal our borders. No nation can exist If you don’t control (illegal) immigration,” Kennedy told The Epoch Times. “There’s a lot of different options. The Israelis are using technology to control their borders and doing it very successfully because they have the same problem with African immigration. I want to talk to all the stakeholders before we develop a policy but I’m going to seal the border.”

His stance on abortion is one that aligns with the Biden administration.

“I don’t think there’s anybody I can argue there’s nobody in this country that has worked harder for the rights of medical freedom and personal bodily autonomy than me,” Kennedy said. “That applies to the vaccines and abortion.

“I don’t think the government should be telling us what to do with our bodies and dictating for Americans what we can and cannot do in the first three months of pregnancy. It’s a woman’s choice.”

That stance could cost him potential support from conservatives, Kennedy admits. He also noted that some Democrats might not vote for him because of his views on gun control.

“Some people are going to vote on one issue—abortion, for example—and I absolutely respect that,” Kennedy said. “I’ve seen photos of late-term abortions, and they’re horrifyingly troubling.

“I respect people who have different points of view, and for people who say that ‘it’s the only issue that I care about,’ they will likely vote for someone else because of my beliefs,” he added.

“I think most Americans have a range of issues they’re concerned about, and they’re mostly concerned about the current state of our country and the direction it is heading, and they want somebody who’s going to listen to them. I will talk to people regardless of their views and will assure them that I will listen to them, even if they don’t vote for me.”

Audience Response

Robert Kimes attended the town hall with his wife Debra. They are registered Republicans. They told The Epoch Times, “We hear a lot about President Trump and President Biden. We want to learn more about some of the other options for 2024.”

Kennedy, the couple admitted, is different than “most of the other candidates.”

“I don’t think he’s going to be able to keep President Biden from getting the nomination for the Democrats. Many of his positions are more middle of the road, which is where most of the people are,” Kimes said. “ Only a small percentage are far to the left or far to the right, but they get most of the press. We don’t hear about middle America that says, ‘We don’t agree with all that.’

“Someone who can represent those middle-of-the-road views would be certainly of interest to me.”

NTD Photo
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. greets U.S. Marine Corps veteran James Taulbee after the June 5 town hall. (Jeff Louderback/The Epoch Times)

James Taulbee, 43, served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 22 years. Standing outside the town hall, he told The Epoch Times that the leadership of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy inspired him to serve.

Wearing a “Kennedy for President” T-shirt he said is a reproduction of JFK’s presidential campaign, Taulbee explained that the younger Kennedy’s stance on medical freedom is among the reasons he respects the candidate.

“I own a gym, and if we followed what the city of Philadelphia said during the COVID pandemic, we would not still be in business,” Taulbee said. “We were harassed and faced a lot of scrutiny, but we kept our doors open.

“I don’t believe in mandates. I believe in the Constitution,” Taulbee added. “That is what he (RFK Jr.) believes, and that is one of the reasons he stands out.”

Taulbee did not support Donald Trump in 2016 but voted for the former president in 2020.

“I see a lot of similarities in Trump and Kennedy because they are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and what they think is right, said Taulbee, noting that it would be a “win-win” if both candidates won their respective primaries because “that would mean we would have a president who is a strong leader willing to make difficult decisions, and that is the type of leader I want running the country.”

From The Epoch Times