Community Events

Kennedy’s Covid vax stance wins some Vermont supporters

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. poses for a photo in South Burlington on June 21.
Photo by Aubrey Weaver

by Aubrey Weaver, for the Community News Service

SOUTH BURLINGTON — In the chandelier-adorned ballroom of the DoubleTree Hilton, several hundred folks from Vermont and elsewhere gathered Wednesday to hear from an old household name. 

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke that night as part of the Gen. John Stark lecture series hosted by the Ethan Allen Institute, the small-government conservative think tank named for one of Vermont’s founding fathers. 

Kennedy, the nephew of President John F. Kennedy and son of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, is one of two challengers to President Joe Biden in the 2024 Democratic primary, joining author Marianne Williamson. 

“He’s a familiar name — my parents loved his family, and I think Vermonters should listen, just listen and hear what he’s trying to say,” said attendee Judith McLaughlin, 65, of Franklin, who lost bids for the Vermont Senate in 2010 and 2012, first as a Republican, then as an independent.

Recent polling has Kennedy’s Democratic support against Biden between 15 and 20%. Many of the attendees who spoke to Community News Service said they had come because they plan to vote for Kennedy or are considering his candidacy as an option. 

Amid a sea of cocktail and business attire stood one attendee sporting a Kennedy 2024 campaign t-shirt and button. If you looked closely, you might’ve noticed her “RFK Jr.” necklace and matching bracelet, custom made by a close friend, she said. When it comes to Kennedy, Joanne Clemens is all in.

“Absolutely, I’ll be voting for him. There are no questions about it. I’m an early supporter. I actually designed my own yard sign,” said Clemens, 63.

Clemens lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts. She said she attended Kennedy’s campaign announcement in Boston Park Plaza in April and drove the 200 miles to see him speak in South Burlington. 

Clemens said she voted for Biden in 2020. These days, she said,“I would vote the other party before I vote for Biden again.”

Why? It came down to Covid, she said. During the height of the pandemic, she spent winters in Florida for its comparatively laxer rules, finding out along the way that she liked how Gov. Ron DeSantis approached policy, she said. She hopes DeSantis doesn’t succeed in his own push for the presidency, as a Republican, “because I actually like the fact that he’s governor of Florida because that’s where I spend my winters.”

Kennedy has been criticized by media commentators and even had his campaign announcement video removed from YouTube, due to his support for the widely discredited claim that vaccines cause autism. 

The candidate didn’t mention that stance during the speech, but even if he had, some attendees didn’t seem to care about his views on vaccines. “I know that some people say he’s a conspiracy theorist, but I sort of buy into (the mantra that) ‘everything that you disagree with sometimes ends up being a conspiracy,’” said McLaughlin, the Franklin resident. 

When asked about the YouTube video takedown, Chittenden County attorney Peter Schubart, 56, said he found the move somewhat suspect. “It seemed like he was positing a valid theory that warranted more examination that, for whatever reason, was taken down.”

In an email to Community News Service, Kennedy’s campaign press team said that “his stance has not changed, although vaccines are not a major emphasis of the campaign.”

Williamson has slammed the administration in the press for so far not agreeing to hold primary debates; Kennedy earlier this year described the situation as “unfortunate.” The move would be unlikely if trends hold: No incumbent since President Gerald Ford has participated in primary debates. Some attendees interviewed at the South Burlington event agreed with the two challengers: They would like to see open primary debates for the 2024 election, despite it being unusual for incumbent elections. 

“Are you kidding? It’s unconstitutional — it’s undemocratic — not to have a debate.” said Clemens. “But the whole question is whether the (Democratic National Committee) will allow him to be in the primary. That will be the biggest test of our democracy that we will see in years.”

Before Kennedy’s turn at the podium, Ethan Allen Institute board chair Jack McMullen spoke about the controversial clean heat bill that became law last month with a legislative override of Gov. Phil Scott’s veto. 

“We are eager to hear Mr. Kennedy’s views on appropriate free market and fair solutions for carbon emissions reduction,” McMullen said. “Perhaps his advice will eventually have an influence on our representatives in Montpelier.”

Kennedy, who in a moment of humor told the audience he had lost a tooth implant he’s had for 60 years right before his presentation, spoke at length about the dangers of lost natural resources and how his solution — focused on revoking subsidies from polluters and forcing them to pay for environmental damages — would make fossil fuel corporations take accountability for the economic burdens they cause. 

“I’m a free marketeer,” he said. “I’m going out into the market, and I’m catching the cheaters. And I’m telling them, ‘I’m going to force you to internalize your costs the same way you internalize your profits.’”

Apart from a few mentions of how he could achieve some of his environmental goals as president, Kennedy steered clear from campaign specifics.

Though he is broadly considered a longshot against Biden, excitement surrounding Kennedy’s candidacy could be indicative of some voters’ disenchantment with their options for 2024. 

Schubart, the Chittenden County–based lawyer, said he voted for Jill Stein in 2020 and would vote for Kennedy in 2024. 

Jeffersonville resident Ferron Wambold, 35, who ran as the Republican candidate for a Lamoille House district seat in 2020, said she didn’t vote for president that year. She wasn’t much enthused about next year’s field either. “I don’t like any of the potential candidates for president,” she said.

But something about Kennedy’s polarizing nature made her curious enough to come out that night. 

“You have some Republicans enjoying Mr. Kennedy, and then you have Democrats who are enjoying him, and then others on both sides are like, ‘He’s crazy,’” she said. “So I feel like it’s the opportune time to hear what he’s about.”

The author is a reporter for Community News Service, a news initiative of the University of Vermont.

Categories: Community Events

12 replies »

  1. I wish I could go back and not get the covid vacine. I have been in pain with shingles and now costocondritis for 2.5 years with no end in sight. Oxytocin and Lidocaine somewhat dull it. Walking .com from our kitchen to the living room can set off excruciating pain. I still got covid and was very sick for three weeks. Fortunately my wife didn’t get the vac after what happened to me. We both got covid at the same time and she was sick for three days. Cudos to RFK for speaking out on this subject!

    • Paul and others like him, We begged you, we screamed, we prayed, we tried again and again to no avail. I have not had contact with my brother or the others of my family over his and their decision to be a sheeple and not think for himself. This is, as you know their CHOICE and it was yours too.

      Me,and my wife will always be purebloods. We have all but been spit on. Blamed for the continued “spike ” that we now know is and continues to be cause by the vaccinated.
      I and my wife have been shunned, ridiculed, had a local non profit ride service agency call us selfish and deny us rides for Medical Care. Been denied ambulance transportation, been barred from hospitals and on and on. But we still believed in God and his protections unlike the people in our own congregation who fell for the lie and stopped believing in GOD. No, you suffer from taking your eyes off GOD. Think about that next time the government says you need to do as we say. Oh and stop getting tested The test kits add to you being able to get sick from that shot. Do some homework. Though I doubt you will.

      • Please, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, do not judge or ridicule our brothers and sisters who were coerced, gaslighted, and threatened to take the jab. Some were forced to comply or lose their jobs. Turn all ire onto the ones who perpetrated this DEMOCIDE upon mankind. The warriors who stood their ground and refused to play Russian roulette with their health are the ones the demon spirits fear the most. Take heart that refusing to obey and comply is a badge of honor – “those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.”
        We raise the standard. Our role is to lift up our brothers and sisters, pray for them, and be the light, not the dim switch.

      • After my and my wife’s treatment, no I have no sympathy for him or any of them. Choices were made, by me by them, by the state. People (maybe not him) virtue signaled their support to ban, sequester and starve out people like us. Only one of them is right and the first two guesses do not count. In my life I have only learned of one who in his Glory and Grace forgave those who did what they did , he died anyway. I am not Jesus, I am not him , I am not a saint, I am a believer in GOD and have faith in HIM. At no time in all this has ANYONE except for those who follow God’s true teachings have been there for ANY of you or me. Even local churches let us down. No, I do not have patience either. How many people like me and my wife are left on the side of the road as an EXAMPLE of what not following the satanic state’s edict against both freedom and GOD.

        I do not virtue signal I speak truth based on THEIR ACTION, not mine. Us, we do everything to stay home away from you sick people. We keep our hearts pure for God to see our lives. We do nothing to promote this bogus “lifestyle” garbage, you know blindly believing what the State has to say. In my life the State has done more to send me to God then average people. The State pushed all kinds of stuff to make us not part of GODs family as we all should be.

        BTW there are way to remove the shot and its damage from your body. If you bother to read you will find it. But just like before you got the shot you probably won’t. Remember once in hell praying for forgiveness gets you nothing but laughter from your personal deamons.

  2. I am not sorry to say, as much as he may resonate with people he still has the STINK of the Democrat party.

    You know the party of the KKK, slavery, Jim Crowe, segregation, lynching, this list is all but endless. The Dem party is so bad when having a meeting to decide what to do for laws for Jews the Nazi’s could not go as far as the Democrat party against blacks.
    How many people were killed because of the Democrat party, how many children, how many blacks, how many women have been destroyed mentally and physically as well as sexually by the Democrat party.

    No sir, to me, your message falls on deaf ears. Switch parties and you may have my vote, but as a Democrat , Not on your life or mine. Oh and let’s talk the coof. It was Democrats thru Fauci that set things in motion to violate the ban on biological weapons you know the covid shots.( don’t try and blame Trump for being lied to and he did not lock down the country just Democrats and Rinos)
    It was The Democrats’ who to this day push trans, pedophilia, homosexuality, the destruction of the church, like I stated before, I could do this all day.

    No, no more Democrats in the Whitehouse. They are SCUM even if the message sounds good and it does not. We all knew the lie He does no more than what some of us have been doing all this time, trying to tell you fools the government is lying to you. So in that respect he is too little too late.

    This is akin to Democrats saying that blacks LIKED being slaves.

    As a Democrat, I can not believe him anymore than a member of the Church of Satan or even Lucifer himself.

  3. At least he’s a better choice than Grampa Joe who should be in a nursing home.

  4. If you read his Fauci book you would understand it is not just about the Wuhan shot. It is about the incestuous relationship between big pharma and government. He is a liberal, so I will never vote for him but that does not mean I don’t agree with him on some issues.

  5. I fi d it said that in a new Hampshire poll released yesterday 47 percent said they would vote for sleepy Joe again 😪😪

  6. I like rfk’s stance on the mrna jabs and the entire vaccine industry, however, he did says so called “climate denyers” should be incarcerated so no thanks

  7. “I’m a free marketeer,” he said. “I’m going out into the market, and I’m catching the cheaters. And I’m telling them, ‘I’m going to force you to internalize your costs the same way you internalize your profits.’”

    He said this about suing the polluting corporations to clean up the Hudson River, but then went on to champion “green energy” as “free forever”, while as we taxpayers get stuck with subsidizing all the corporate cronies profiting off their junk science. What a crock!

    The politicians’ campaign coffers are filled by these same corporations in the manufacturing, promotion and sale of their solar panels and windmills already poisoning our landscapes and landfills with their toxic metals, which is well documented now, but the climate alarmists and their media never allow public debate and censor opposing scientists.

    But have no fear, the Kennedy’s and their kind will be lining up in a few years to reap the legal fees and fines on the back end when they sue these same companies afterward — fines that they gladly cough up so they can walk away, while taxpayers are left funding the cleanup of all the EPA sites/brownfields. They rip us off coming and going.

  8. For Democrats, the worst thing about Kennedy’s candidacy is that it makes obvious how insane the rest of the Democrat establishment really is.