RFK Jr. Alleges ‘Smears’ Are Aimed to Silence His 2024 Presidential Bid

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told lawmakers he’s being hit by a “new type of censorship” through smears and lies intended to silence him.

(Bloomberg) — Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told lawmakers he’s being hit by a “new type of censorship” through smears and lies intended to silence him.

Kennedy has drawn heat for comments widely criticized as antisemitic and his embrace of unsubstantiated rhetoric about vaccine safety, including race-based conspiracy theories.

“In my entire life, I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or antisemitic,” Kennedy, 69, the son of the late Senator Robert Kennedy and nephew of the late President John Kennedy, said at a House hearing Thursday.  

The criticisms have intensified since the release last week of a video of him saying that Covid is targeted at White and Black people and bioengineered to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people.

New York Democrat Dan Goldman played a snippet of that video at the hearing of the Republican-led Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. He asked Kennedy whether Goldman himself should be worried about his genetics because he is an Ashkenazi Jew and got Covid. 

“No, not at all — that statement as you saw there is a truncated version of a larger statement,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy stands as a long-shot candidate for president, polling at 14.3% in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls — more than 51 points behind President Joe Biden. Those numbers suggest not so much support for Kennedy but a yearning among some Democrats for “a generic someone else,” said Wayne Steger, who studies presidential nominations at DePaul University.

Intra-party challenges to an incumbent president can signal trouble, as when Kennedy’s uncle Ted Kennedy ran against President Jimmy Carter in 1980 or Pat Buchanan challenged President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Still, most Kennedy supporters will likely support Biden, “especially so if the Republican nominee is Trump, who energizes both his base and his opponent’s base,” Steger said.

At the hearing, Stacey Plaskett, a Virgin Islands delegate and the subcommittee’s top Democrat, criticized the panel’s GOP chairman, Jim Jordan of Ohio, for even allowing Kennedy as a witness. She said Kennedy’s views should not be legitimized with a platform in the halls of the US House. “Free speech is not absolute,” she said.

Another Democrat, Gerald Connolly of Virginia, told Kennedy that, surely, he must realize his invitation to the hearing was intended “to be used for political reasons by the other side of the aisle to embarrass the current president of the United States.”

Republican Tom Massie of Kentucky said it was ironic that Democrats tried to keep Kennedy from testifying during a hearing on censorship. The hearing, by its conclusion, had devolved into disagreements over which party was battling the hardest for free speech and against censorship.

Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida recalled that Kennedy last year spoke at a rally in Washington against vaccine mandates in schools, churches and business during the height of the pandemic, suggesting Jews in Nazi, Germany had more freedom. “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” Kennedy had said.

Kennedy later tweeted an apology for that widely condemned reference to Anne Frank, “and especially to families that suffered the Holocaust horrors.” He said his intention had been to use examples of past barbarism “to show the perils from new technologies of control.”

In his testimony Thursday, Kennedy likened the scrutiny and criticism of him to hearings conducted in the 1950s by Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy, who claimed to be rooting out communists in the federal government but whose efforts have become synonymous with public smear campaigns.

Kennedy said the attacks on him have stepped up after he announced his presidential bid in April, but that “my views are constantly being misrepresented.”

He argued that there is a need for “real conversations” on important topics, and said he does not oppose vaccines but wants to make them safer.

–With assistance from Gregory Korte.

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