Presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. believes he is popular with young voters amid his candidacy for president.
In an interview with Newsweek, Kennedy, 69, described himself as a “First Amendment absolutist” regarding free speech.
He said he believes that is why students who make it a point to police what they deem appropriate speech and what isn’t and those who support “cancel culture” do not support his candidacy, according to the outlet.
Before he announced his presidential run, Kennedy, who is the son of the former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former 35th President John F. Kennedy, said he would speak at college campuses nearly 500 times over 25 years without charge or for the amount of $25,000-$50,000, which was his normal speaking fee.
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His speeches usually consisted of topics such as environmentalism which drew young people to his message.
“I’ve always had a big following among young people; environmentalists skew young,” he said.
His stance against the COVID-19 vaccine also has helped his reputation with college students.
“I tell them, ‘thanks.’ What else can I say?” he said when approached by the grateful students.
According to a poll by the New York Times and Siena College published on Sunday, Kennedy is leading the race with 34% amongst voters aged 18-29 in six key battleground states while President Joe Biden is at 30% and former President Donald Trump at 29%.
Additionally, Kennedy said he wants to restore “moral authority” to America, something young people want. He also noted a Gallup poll, published in June, revealed only 18% of votes aged 18-34 were “extremely proud” to be an American which is considerably lower than a decade earlier, Newsweek reports.
“In the terms of the last two presidents, an entire generation of American kids have become disillusioned about our country and their own futures. I’ve been trying to show that generation a path to hope,” he shared.
John Pitney, political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, told Newsweek Kennedy’s appeal among young voters is tied in part to his declaration that he’s an independent, and the perception that, at 69, he’s younger than Trump and Biden.
His popularity “represents dissatisfaction about a choice between two old men,” Pitney said. “Many younger voters like the vague idea of ‘independence.’ His support will melt when voters learn about his positions, his record and his age.”
Kennedy disagreed, saying he is offering something neither Biden nor Trump offer — hope.
“Democrats are saying to vote for Biden because Donald Trump is scary. Nobody is saying to vote for Biden because he’s inspiring or vigorous, or equipped for a challenging world,” he said. “And the Republicans are saying the same thing—vote for Trump or Biden’s gonna get another term. They’re trying to scare people, and I’m offering hope.”
“My mission over the next 18 months of this campaign, and throughout my presidency, will be to end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power that is threatening now to impose a new kind of corporate feudalism on our country,” Kennedy said.
But Kennedy acknowledged he is not popular with all college campuses.
“I don’t think I have strong support among super-woke college campuses,” he added. “If you’re into cancel culture, you’ll support President Biden, because I don’t believe in censorship. Colleges ought to be censorship-free zones; issues should be debated. That’s what democracy is about.”
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