Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Run as Independent: Where Does He Stand on the Issues?
Since first announcing his presidential bid as a Democrat in April, his campaign has been characterized by attempts to appeal to voters.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a Catholic and lifelong Democrat, announced on Monday that he has left the Democratic Party and is running as an Independent to unseat Joe Biden as president of the United States.
Speaking outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Kennedy, 69, gave his announcement speech to a crowd of several thousand and more than 750,000 livestream viewers. Despite his deep familial ties to the party, Kennedy has been very critical of modern Democrats and has opposed aspects of their platform.
Since first announcing his presidential bid as a Democrat in April, his campaign has been characterized by attempts to appeal to voters on both the left and right sides of the aisle.
“Getting us to hate each other is all part of the scam,” Kennedy claimed during his Monday speech. “Our nation’s renewal is going to begin when we start to treat each other with respect.”
During the speech, Kennedy, the nephew of the first Catholic president in U.S. history, pledged that as an Independent president he would be “a servant only to my conscience, my Creator, and to you.”
Here is what he has said about some of the key issues during his campaign thus far.
Despite his stated belief that abortion is a “tragedy,” Kennedy is a strong supporter of abortion.
According to his campaign website, Kennedy believes that Dobbs v. Jackson, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, should be reversed.
He supports legislation to “restore abortion rights” on the grounds that “body sovereignty must be protected.”
There was confusion about Kennedy’s abortion stance in August, after he seemingly endorsed a national 15-week abortion ban while speaking to a reporter at the Iowa State Fair.
At the fair, Kennedy said: “Once a child is viable, outside the womb, I think then the state has an interest in protecting that child.”
Kennedy’s campaign later walked back that statement, saying unequivocally that he “does not support legislation banning abortion.”
At the same time, Kennedy has said that he is “appalled” by late-term abortion and that he will work to “end those in other ways.”
He has said that his economic plan would help to reduce the number of abortions.
Kennedy has been very critical of the 2020 COVID lockdowns, which included the closing of churches and clamping down on religious assembly.
“One of the things that happened was that we created this terrible precedent where the government has shown that people are willing to comply when it violates the Constitution,” Kennedy said during a podcast episode with conservative commentator Jason Whitlock. “And we did this with free expression. They closed the churches for a year with no due process, no just compensation.”
Speaking with local outlet FOX Carolina News in July, Kennedy said that it is “just wrong” to allow male athletes to compete in women’s sports as transgender females.
“I don’t think that people who were born biologically male should be playing in women’s sports,” he said. “It just doesn’t seem fair that a man can walk off a baseball field or a basketball court onto a women’s court and take up those positions.”
Regarding LGBTQ+ ideology being taught in schools, Kennedy said that though transgender persons “should be respected,” he believes “parents need to have the final say about what’s taught to their children in schools.”
What Are His Priorities?
Kennedy is best known for his environmental activism and his staunch opposition to vaccine mandates. As a presidential candidate, however, Kennedy has focused on other issues, such as ending American involvement in foreign wars, increasing government transparency, and reversing the impacts of inflation.
On his campaign website, Kennedy promises to “end the forever wars, clean up government, increase wealth for all, and tell Americans the truth.”
“It’s going to be very hard to tell whether my administration is left or right,” Kennedy said on Monday. “Is it right- or left-wing to support small farms? Is it right or left to pull our nation back from the brink of war with Russia? Is it right or left to implement a tamper-proof election system that also guarantees that everyone has the right to vote?”
Stopping the War in Ukraine
Kennedy supports reducing military spending and American involvement in foreign wars such as in Ukraine, in order to allow the nation to devote greater resources to domestic problems.
His campaign website says that he “will find a diplomatic solution that brings peace to Ukraine and brings our resources back where they belong.”
“As president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will start the process of unwinding empire. We will bring the troops home. We will stop racking up unpayable debt to fight one war after another,” Kennedy’s campaign website says, explaining that “the military will return to its proper role of defending our country.”
Kennedy claims on his website that “government institutions have betrayed our trust,” intelligence agencies “spy on our own people,” and regulatory agencies “have been captured by those they are supposed to regulate.”
“As president,” Kennedy said in an Oct. 5 X post, “I will go through the federal bureaucracy agency by agency to install honest, competent leadership and unravel corporate capture, which has a merciless grip on our democracy.”
As part of his “honest government” platform, Kennedy opposes government censorship.
“A government that can censor its critics has license for every atrocity. It is the beginning of totalitarianism,” he said in July while testifying in the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
“Once you start censoring,” Kennedy went on, “you’re on your way to dystopia and totalitarianism.”
Kennedy has proposed a 14-point plan to reduce the cost of living, including raising minimum wages, expanding free child care, reducing mortgage and student loan interest, redirecting regulatory scrutiny to large corporations as opposed to small businesses, and securing the border to stop migrants from undercutting wages.
An environmentalist lawyer, Kennedy has credited his faith as part of the reason behind his activism.
In an April X post, Kennedy said: “God talks to human beings through many vectors: wise people, organized religion, the Great Books of religions, through art, music, and poetry. But nowhere with such detail, and grace and joy, as through creation. When we destroy nature, we diminish our capacity to sense the divine.”
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- robert f. kennedy
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