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Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. backed up his views on “safe vaccines” and said the Democratic Party is not what it used to be during a NewsNation town hall on Wednesday night.
Kennedy fielded questions from the audience and moderator Elizabeth Vargas, host of NewsNation’s “Elizabeth Vargas Reports,” on a variety of topics, including the war in Ukraine and the state of the Democratic Party. One prominent moment from the event came when Dr. Tariq Butt, a family medicine physician, confronted the presidential contender on his controversial views on childhood vaccinations.
“I’ve never been anti-vaccine, and I’ve said that hundreds and hundreds of times but it doesn’t matter,” Kennedy said in response to Butt calling his stance “dangerous.” “Using a pejorative to describe me is a way of silencing me or marginalizing me,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy, the founder of the nonprofit organization Children’s Health Defense, said that he is a proponent of “safe vaccines,” though Vargas pointed out that “nearly every” scientific and medical organization says he is “wrong” on the issue and that vaccines are already safe.
🔥 Robert F. Kennedy Jr Debates a Family Physician on Vaccine Safety During the NewsNation Town Hallpic.twitter.com/ffJIzffZUZ
— Chief Nerd (@TheChiefNerd) June 29, 2023
“I think virtually every American would agree with my stance on vaccines, which is that vaccines should be tested like other medicines. They should be safety tested,” Kennedy told Butt. “Unfortunately, vaccines are not safety tested, they’re not.”
“Of the 72 vaccine doses now mandated — essentially mandated, they’re recommended but they’re really mandated — for American children, none of them, not one, has ever been subject to a pre-licensing placebo-controlled trial,” Kennedy claimed, prompting Vargas to interject, saying, “Yes they have.”
Kennedy pointed to a 2016 meeting with Dr. Anthony Fauci in which he requested a pre-licensing safety test from “any vaccine.” The presidential contender says he sued the Department of Health and Human Services to produce the documentation, but they never did.
“They said they could not provide a single safety study for any vaccine that is on the childhood schedule — a pre-licensing safety study,” Kennedy said.
During the town hall, Kennedy also expressed his displeasure with the modern state of the Democratic Party and refused to pledge to support the eventual Democratic nominee. He told Vargas he was running because he thinks his party has “lost its way.”
“I believe that the values that I’m trying to promote are the exact values that my father and my uncle would have promoted,” Kennedy said. “One of my purposes in running is to remind the Democratic Party of what we are supposed to represent, and what we’ve always represented. … I want my party back.”
RFK Jr: "One of my purposes in running is to remind the Democratic Party of what we are supposed to represent, and what we've always represented … I want my party back." pic.twitter.com/4f0w5D88QA
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) June 29, 2023
Kennedy is polling at 15%, trailing President Biden, who sits at 62%, according to a Harvard CAPS-Harris poll. A CNN poll from earlier this year had Kennedy at 20% among Democrats, a strong performance against an incumbent president.
When asked whether he would support the eventual nominee, Kennedy said, “Of course I’m not gonna do that,” adding that he’d support the nominee if they were “living up to Democratic values.”