President Kennedy? RFK Jr. makes campaign stop in West Virginia

By Matthew young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “My family has a long history in this state. When my uncle was president, and when my father was a senator, this state was a priority to them, and it’s been a priority to me in my lifetime.” 

That’s what Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. told RealWV Saturday night after being asked, if elected president, why his administration would be the one to finally treat the people of West Virginia as anything more than the inconsequential residents of a fly-over state. 

“I’ve litigated multiple times in this state against large corporations that were abusing the people of West Virginia, and I’ve won that litigation time-after-time,” Kennedy noted. “I’ve spent so much time here because of my family’s long connections to this state, and that’s something that’s going to be with me until the end of my days.”

“West Virginia will be a priority for me as president,” Kennedy added.

An environmental lawyer and independent challenger to the repeat presidential ambitions of both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, Kennedy brought his “Declare Your Independence 2024” campaign to the Mountain State on Saturday, for an appearance at a rally in Charleston. After originally looking to unseat current President Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee, Kennedy withdrew from the party in October, citing “corruption in the leadership of both parties,” as the primary motivation for his decision.

As an independent candidate, Kennedy can avoid the primary process by which both major parties will choose their nominee. However, in order to appear on state ballots in November, Kennedy must collect thousands of verifiable signatures in every state, including 8,000 in West Virginia, to demonstrate his ability to legitimately compete in the general election. Thus far, Kennedy has secured ballot position in Utah and New Hampshire, and is expected to secure placement on the ballots of most, if not all, other states by November. 

“I’m really happy to be here in West Virginia,” Kennedy told the packed arena of more than 1,000 rally-goers. “My family has a long and deep relationship with this state. When I was a little boy, my mother and father disappeared for about six weeks to West Virginia, along with all my uncles, during the 1960 primary.”

“This was a critical state for my uncle (President John F. Kennedy) to win,” Kennedy continued. “My uncle was the first Irish-Catholic president. […] People thought that a catholic could never be President of the United States. […] West Virginia was a key state in proof-of-concept, because West Virginia had the lowest percentage of Catholics of any state in our country.”

“My family spent a lot of time in the state to beat Hubert Humphrey,” Kennedy added. “They claimed that they had shaken the hands of every citizen in West Virginia. But in that process, they came to understand the issues that are important in the state – the cataclysmic levels of poverty in this state, and the concerns of West Virginians. And they never forgot that.”

Independent Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy greets supporters at a rally in Charleston, on January 27. Video by Matthew Young, RealWV.

In his adult life, Kennedy explained, much of his career has been spent litigating on behalf of the people of West Virginia. 

“You have entire counties in parts of West Virginia that are saturated with these huge levels of dioxins,” Kennedy said. “Dioxins are the most toxic molecules known to man that are not radioactive. A single molecule of dioxin in your body can cause […] a grim inventory of diseases.”

“That’s a direct result from greed,” Kennedy continued. “The system has allowed greed to metastasize and flourish through the capture of our government by these giant corporations.”

“I see these things happening around me, and I see that people aren’t concerned about the poverty in this state,” Kennedy added. “That’s no longer a priority for our political leaders. President Biden […] sent $113 billion (to Ukraine). The entire budget of the EPA is $12 billion. That’s all we have for the environment in this whole country, and we’ve sent more than 10-times that to Ukraine.”

According to Kennedy, the country’s current political leadership is unbothered by the concerns of the American voter, and actively works to maintain division among the population.

“The way that they do that is they keep us all fighting with each other,” Kennedy explained. “They keep Republicans at war against Democrats, and Democrats hating Republicans – blacks against whites.”

“And as long as we’re fighting each other, we’re not going to do anything about the corporate control of both of the political parties and our government,” Kennedy said. “When the king and queen look out of their castle and they see all their subjects fighting each other, they go back to the banquet hall and they pop champagne corks because they know nobody’s coming over the wall for them to take back what they stole.”

The RFK Jr. campaign bus parked outside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center on January 27. Photo by Matthew Young, RealWV.

“What I said, when I declared for this job eight months ago, is that I’m going to try my best to silence that rancor, to silence the vilification – the anger – and to identify the issues that hold Americans together,” Kennedy noted. “I won’t focus on these little culture war-issues that keep us all apart.”

“I want everybody to climb over the castle walls to take back our country,” Kennedy added.

If current national polling numbers are to be believed, and based upon the public support from key members of both the Republican and Democratic parties, Kennedy’s third-party bid could find that “sweet spot” in the middle of the political spectrum that has thus far alluded Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). And while Kennedy would still be considered a long shot, his campaign is likely to lure voters away from both Biden and Trump. 

Independent Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy addresses supporters at a rally in Charleston, on January 27. Phot by Matthew Young, RealWV.

“My polling is outstanding,” Kennedy said. “I’m beating both President Trump and President Biden among all Americans in the battleground states, and everybody under 45-years-old. My favorability rating is 25 points ahead of either President Biden or President Trump. […] These are the two least popular party nominees to ever run in modern American history.”

While Kennedy would seem to be the most appealing current option to younger voters, he said he is struggling to get his message through to the “baby boomer” generation.

“They’re the people who remember ‘Camelot’ and the Kennedy-era,” Kennedy said. “They only get their news from ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times. If I were living in that information-ecosystem, I’d have a low opinion of myself as well.”

“Young people are getting their information from long-form interviews, from podcasts, and from other alternative outlets,” Kennedy noted. “They’re doing critical thinking – they’re not locked into these orthodoxies.” 

“It’s about time that we have, in this country, a candidate who people can vote for – who’s not the lesser of two evils,” Kennedy added. 


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