Who Is RFK Jr.? Meet the Controversial Figure Running Against Biden

A longtime anti-vaxxer, Kennedy continues to promote conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at a vaccine hearing

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. testifies during a public hearing about vaccine-related bills in 2015.

Carl D. Walsh/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Kennedy has long espoused anti-vaccine views, suggesting a flu vaccine may have caused his voice disorder, but he rose to prominence during the pandemic for his opposition to COVID-19 vaccines.

In 2005, he wrote an article published on Salon claiming that the mercury-based thimerosal compound in vaccines causes autism. After issuing multiple corrections, Salon eventually retracted the piece.

Kennedy founded the anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense, originally named the World Mercury Project, in 2011. In 2022, Facebook and Instagram removed the nonprofit’s social-media pages, saying it had repeatedly violated Meta’s medical-misinformation policies, The New York Times reported.

In a 2022 speech opposing vaccination mandates, Kennedy said, “Even in Hitler’s Germany you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.” He subsequently apologized for invoking the Holocaust.

At a press event held at a New York City restaurant in July, Kennedy told the crowd that COVID-19 may have been “ethnically targeted” to attack certain groups of people, The New York Post reported.

“COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people,” he said. “The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

“We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not, but there are papers out there that show the racial and ethnic differential and impact,” he continued.

In a statement to The Post, the Anti-Defamation League called Kennedy’s remarks “deeply offensive,” saying they feed into the “sinophobic and anti-semitic conspiracy theories about COVID-19 that we have seen evolve over the last three years.”

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