TUSCALOOSA — Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. spoke to a large crowd in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday as he shared his campaign message in a wildly pro-Trump state.
Kennedy has surged as an independent candidate in recent months. His criticism of the federal government's actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine skepticism, environmental and agricultural advocacy, criticism of U.S. war interventions, and calls for increased government accountability have made him popular with voters across all parties.
Kennedy spoke first of his long history in Alabama, including living in Lowndes County and moving in a "Jeep with no roof." He also included his time engaging in state litigation through his legal advocacy as a founder of the Waterkeeper Alliance.
"I came up here for a presidential campaign for my uncle, Ted Kennedy, in 1980, and I lived in Birmingham," he said. "I visited all 67 counties in Alabama. And then, over the years, as I was running Waterkeepers, we had a lot of Riverkeepers here in Alabama. The first one was in Tuscaloosa… Alabama has the Mobile Bay and many others, so I did a lot of litigation in this state on those rivers. I feel like Alabama is a second home to me."
Kennedy spoke at length about the issues that prompted him to run for president, drawing a straight line from his environmental work to the actions taken by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much of Kennedy's concerns surrounding American agriculture, housing, economy, and governmental mismanagement centers on BlackRock, the multinational, multi-trillion dollar investment company, which Kennedy claimed has its fingers in virtually every economic pie in the U.S. and elsewhere. He also criticized the role of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for working to make traditional staples of American ownership an economic impossibility.
"[BlackRock] is the third largest economy in the world," Kennedy said. "And the CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink, is on the board of the [WEF], and the [WEF], which just met in Davos, has a plan for humanity which they call the Great Reset, it's the billionaire boys club, they meet every year there in Switzerland. And their plan, they call the great reset. And when he was asked to explain what that means, Klaus Schwab, who runs the [WEF], said, 'You will own nothing, but you will be happy.' So, they're on their way to achieving at least the first part of that promise."
"When I was your age, the central promise of the American Dream was that if you work hard and play by the rules, you could finance a home; you could raise a family; you could have a summer vacation; you could put something aside for retirement. And there is nobody in your generation who believes that that promise applies to them. Not any of my kids, not any of their friends. My kids went to the best colleges, and they have good jobs, but home ownership is completely out of their reach."
Additionally, while Kennedy expressed an ardent desire not to engage in political mudslinging against his top opponents, he talked about the perceived failures of former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The crux of Kennedy's campaign platform centered around reforming and restructuring federal agencies, which he claims are all under the immense influence of major corporations pushing less-than-altruistic agendas.
"President Trump had, I think, double the amount of lobbyists than any President in United States history running our agencies," Kennedy said. "You can't reform them when you've got the swamp creatures running them, and I'm not going to do that. I'm going to do something different. I never thought I'd run for President of the United States. I watched what was happening during COVID and saw my country going in a direction that I never thought would happen. And that's what made me run. And I have one objective and that is to restore the promise of this country, and principally to your generation. The way my dad did in America that I was proud of, and I want to give you guys the kind of America that you can be proud of."
Kennedy acknowledged that he needed an additional 5,000 signatures to appear on Alabama's ballot. However, pointing to recent data showing that more citizens identify as Independent than Democrat or Republican, Kennedy believes the unprecedented political landscape is ripe for electing the nation's first-ever independent president.
"I'm in a better position right now than any independent in American history for the past 100 years since Teddy Roosevelt," he said. "I'm running against the two men, each of whom, if the other one wasn't running, would score as the least popular major party candidate to ever run for president. Seventy percent of the American public say they do not want a contest between President Biden and President Trump. I think the threshold point for me is the moment people understand that I can win this election."
Kennedy also likes his odds with a contingent election, which would require the U.S. House of Representatives to select the next president if no one candidate received a majority of electors. In such cases, each state votes in one block. The last contingent election came after a presidential race 200 years ago.
"In order to win, you need 26 votes, and neither side has that," Kennedy explained. "And no Biden supporter in the House is ever going to vote for Trump because their career would be over. And no Trump supporter is ever going to Vote for Biden because their career would be over. And under the 26th Amendment, they have to stay in Congress and vote on nothing else until they make a decision."
He continued, "It seems clear that they're going to have to go with a compromise candidate, and I feel like I'm in the best position to be that compromise candidate."
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