The line of people waiting outside St. Cecilia Music Center, 24 Ransom Ave. NE, in Grand Rapids, Michigan stretched all the way down the block. The hordes of people were there to attend Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s 2024 presidential campaign rally.
The 650-seat hall was filled.
The rally started with a video that talked about healing our divided nation. A song called,
“I Am A Real American,” with lyrics about fighting for the rights of every man was played to rev up the crowd.
When it ended, the crowd started chanting: “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby.”
A brief introduction was given by New York based musician Erik B (Louis Eric Barrier, half of the Hip Hop duo, Erik B & Rakim). When RFK Jr. came out, he announced that Erik B. was recently nominated to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Eric B said he woke up that morning in New Jersey, and then drove across the RFK Bridge (named for RFK Jr.’s father who was assassinated while serving as U.S. Senator in 1968) to get to JFK Airport (named for RFJ Jr.’s uncle, President John F. Kennedy, also famously assassinated in 1963), and was now in Grand Rapids with his good friend, RFK Jr. The pair had a brief conversation about gratitude and how important it is to be grateful; grateful for everything.
Kennedy opened with some comments about recent polling data and said that he’s 20 points ahead in “favorability” with 70 percent of the public saying they don’t want the choice of the “lesser of those two evils” (a referencing to President Biden and the leading candidate opposing him, former President Donald Trump).
“They want to vote for somebody that inspires them that they like, and don’t you think we should give them that chance?” Kennedy asked the crowd.
Kennedy is campaigning in Grand Rapids ahead of the 2024 presidential primaries that are to take place in Michigan Feb. 27. He’s unique in that he’s not a member of any political party. He walked away from Democrats last year and struck out on his own.
Independent candidates in the U.S. have a long history of not making much headway in general elections, but Kennedy’s pedigree, track record, likability, and his ability to relate to the common struggles of everyday Americans might propel him to success, if only he could get past the gatekeepers in the media. The millions of Americans who rely on the television to tell them who’s running for president, likely haven’t given Kennedy a second thought.
Known for his advocacy for the environment, Kennedy was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success helping in the fight to restore the Hudson River. He is the founder of Waterkeeper Alliance, a group that tracks down and sues polluters.
He’s also a New York Times Bestselling author, with a long list of published books including the New York Times’ bestseller, “Crimes Against Nature.” More recently, Kennedy authored, ”The Real Anthony Fauci,” a meticulously-cited, scathing takedown of the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Kennedy has been an advocate for children’s health acting as Chairman of the Board, and Chief Legal Counsel for Children’s Health Defense. During the Covid-19 pandemic he spoke at many events in the U.S. and abroad, where people had gathered to protest pandemic response measures, for which he was banned from Instagram, and likely other social media and streaming channels.
“We need 12,000 ballot signatures here in Michigan,” he said, on a mission to encourage people to sign and help him get on the ballot. “Any of you who would be willing to sign up other people in Michigan, let us know at Kennedy24.com.”
As a career attorney who advocates for health, both personal and the environment, one would expect him to recite laundry list of his accomplishments battling chemical and pharmaceutical companies and other polluters. But he opened as a staunch supporter of free speech, encouraging people to watch a recent interview conducted by independent American journalist Tucker Carlson. Here is the entire transcript of the speech he gave in Grand Rapids today, Feb. 10, 2024:
“Two things I want to talk about: One is the interview Tucker did with Vladimir Putin, which I watched this morning.”
(The auditorium broke out in applause.)
“Every American should watch that interview, no matter how you feel about the war, no matter how you feel about American foreign policy. It’s important…my uncle (presumably referring to President JFK) always said that to have peace in the world, you have to be able to put yourself in other person’s shoes. And whether you believe Vladimir Putin, whether you think he’s lying through his teeth, everybody should watch it because the challenge that it poses to the orthodoxies that we’ve been handed, to these kind of comic book depictions, and again you can choose to believe those things, you can choose to believe that everybody in our government is (also) well intentioned, or you can…and that’s fine. But let’s listen to both sides, and let people make up our own minds.
“One of the things we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks is this huge barrage of press condemning Tucker Carlson for doing this interview. And you may hate Tucker Carlson. I know a lot of people who don’t feel good about Tucker Carlson, but that’s not the point. You know, Mike Wallace went and interviewed the Ayatollah Khomeini a couple of weeks after he killed a lot of Americans, I think 53 Americans. And Christian Amanpour interviewed Saddam Hussein and interviewed Osama Bin Laden. And it’s important for…you know, we’re a democracy in our country. Our leaders need to trust us to make judgements and trust our…
“And let us make up our own minds.
“The other thing I wanted to talk about was another Tucker Carlson interview which was with Calley Means who is a former pharmaceutical executive. And he now runs a nonprofit that challenges the hammer grip that pharmaceutical companies have on American democracy. And he said, he again is saying things that I’ve been talking about for a long time which…about the chronic disease epidemic. And he said a few things I didn’t even know.
“He said that, for example that over 30 percent of American children are now pre diabetic or diabetic. And when I was a kid, a pediatrician typically would see one or two cases of childhood diabetes in their entire career. Today, it’s one out of every three kids who walks through their office door. Now it’s the biggest cost in healthcare. It’s…treating diabetes in this country is now higher than our military budget. Isn’t this something you want our political leaders to be thinking about it?
(Applause and whistles from the crowd.)
“Shouldn’t we be asking the question, ‘what’s causing it?’”
(One crowd member yelled out a resounding, “Yes.”)
“Right? And have an open mind about it. We know it’s an environmental toxin. Because genes don’t cause epidemic. And this is an epidemic. Shouldn’t we be asking about why one in every 10,000 people in my generation, 70-year-old men, has autism? Full blown autism: nonverbal, non-toilet trained, stimming, toe walking, head banging, all the stereotypical tactile and light sensitivities. One in 10,000 people my age in looks like that in America.
“Why is it that one out of every 34 kids looks like that? Shouldn’t we all be asking that question?
“When the Republicans go on and debate, I don’t think the Democrats are even going to be allowed to debate. But when they debate shouldn’t somebody be asking them what are you going to do about that?”
(“Yes,” a voice echoed from the audience.)
“And that’s not happening in our country. And it’s the biggest cost to our country. It is dragging us down. We’re the sickest people on the face of the earth. We’re the sickest people in the history of the world from chronic disease. We have this explosion, in fact, EPA…or Congress asked EPA: ‘tell us what year the chronic disease epidemic began.’ And the EPA came back and said, ‘It’s a red line: 1989.’ So, what changed in 1989?
“Well, there’s a lot of things that could have changed that year. (But) and there’s a toxicologist, very famous called Phil Landrigan. I’ve used him in a bunch of cases, he’s one of the most famous toxicologists in this country, he’s at Mt. Saini (hospital) in New York and he’s looked at this problem and said, ‘Ok all these chronic diseases follow roughly the same timeline, the diabetes epidemic, the obesity epidemic.’
“When my uncle was president six percent of Americans had chronic disease. Today, it’s almost 60 percent. When my uncle was president four percent of our GDP went to healthcare. Today it’s 20 percent and rising exponentially – 4.3 trillion dollars it’s costing us. The entire military budget, all foreign aid, all national security, all veterans’ benefits (is) 1.3 trillion. Four point three trillion is going to treat disease, 93 percent of Medicare bills. It’s the biggest issue. Why is nobody talking about it? Why aren’t we allowed to talk about it?
“And Phil Landrigan said it’s only, there’s a narrow universe of things that it could be. You have to look at something that began around 1989 and the early nineties that affected every demographic in our country from Cubans in Key Biscane to Inuit in Homer Alaska. And it has a couple other characteristics. Neurological disorders affect boys at about a four-to-one rate as girls. So, what are there that could fit those criteria. It’s a narrow range and Landrigan comes down with about 13 things that it could be, and one of them is Glyphosate, which is Roundup which I’ve litigated on…
“PFOA, or what we call forever chemicals, PFOAs PFAs and those were mainly flame retardants that were put in pajamas and furniture on that timeline…high fructose corn… I’ve litigated on that by the way as well. My case…
“They made a major motion picture out of my case called ‘Dark Waters’ with Mark Ruffalo.
“Neonicotinoids pesticides is another potential. Atrazine which is now in our water supply follows pretty much that same timeline. High fructose corn syrup, which you know, there are studies out there that link it to diabetes and to a lot of other things including the obesity epidemic. Our children did not you know, when my uncle was president 13 percent of kids were obese. Today it’s almost 50 percent. And 75 percent of adults are overweight or obese. Americans did not suddenly get lazy. We are being mass poisoned.
“And it’s not will power, you know. We’re being poisoned and you know, we’re being told to blame ourselves, etcetera. I’m a very, very strong advocate of exercising and a good diet and keeping in shape, but, you know, we’re being poisoned. And that IS what we ought to be focusing on.
“Another potential is cell phone radiation. You know, this is another one of my conspiracy theories, like my other conspiracy theory that Glyphosate, or Roundup causes non Hodgekins Lymphoma that we’ve now won three jury trials and gone up to the Court of Appeals and they all agreed that that conspiracy theory was actually real. Well, the other one is cell phone radiation, and it’s bad for you. It causes cancer. It causes glioblastoma cancers.
“It causes the penetration of the blood brain barrier, and again I said this stuff on Joe Rogan show and they said that ‘here’s another conspiracy theory,’ but I won that case in front of a full panel at the Court of Appeals.
“A conspiracy theory is just something that the government doesn’t want you to hear and doesn’t want you to think about.
(Uproarious applause and some hooting.)
“So, when I go in there, I’m going to fix it. People say how are you going to…
“Our kids our now, we have passed on to our kids…The last two presidents added I think 8 trillion dollars to the deficit that our kids have to pay back. We’re now at 34 Trillion dollars. Of course, you can fake a strong economy by flooding it with cash. Somebody’s going to pay for our joyride. And who is it? It’s our kids. We’ve completely and utterly betrayed this generation of kids. We’ve loaded all our problems onto them.
“Already the debt service is now larger than our military budget. We go up to 50 trillion dollars. Every time that interest rate goes up, the debt service goes up. If you go from three percent to eight percent, seven percent, that debt service more than doubles. We’ve been artificially keeping the interest rates low, but when they start going up… When I was young, when I bought my house the interest rates were around 18 percent. Imagine that. If it went up to 18 percent, the service of the debt would be larger than our entire budget. Literally a hundred percent of every dollar in taxes would go to servicing the debt. That’s where we’re heading.
“And does anybody think that’s a good idea?”
(Crowd members: “No.”)
“And does anybody have any plan, any of the politicians you listen to, have any plan to avert that calamity? Have you heard that in a debate?”
“Have you (heard) the Republican debate? Again, you’re not going to hear it in a Democratic Party (Someone from the crowd yelled something unintelligible and RFK Jr. laughed).
“Nobody’s talking about that, and nobody’s talking about the housing crisis, which this state is one of the worst states in this country for the price of housing. I have six kids, I have seven kids, one of them, the oldest one is in a home, he’s 39 years old. But the younger six are between 20 and 30, and they don’t even have any conception that they’ll ever be able to buy a home, because they can’t. They all went to the best schools in our country. They all have great jobs, but they can’t buy a home. Homes have gone from $215,000 average to $400,000 today. And the interest rates have gone from three percent to almost eight percent. There’s no way that they can buy a home.
“And the central fulcrum, the central promise of the American Dream when I was growing up was that if you worked hard, if you played by the rules, you could finance a home, you could support afford a family, you could take a summer vacation, you could put something aside for retirement on a single job!
“There’s nobody in this generation that believes that that promise applies to them because it doesn’t. We’ve yanked the rug out from under these kids.
“In 2013, there was a poll, a national poll, that asked young Americans under 35 years old, 18-35. Are you proud of the United States of America? 85 percent said ‘yes.’ Same poll taken four months ago, 17 percent said ‘yes.’
“So, somehow in the administrations of the last two presidents, this entire generation of young people have lost pride in America, and they’ve lost faith and hope in their own futures. And I can tell you that as President of the United States, restoring that faith and restoring that pride in our country is going to be my most important job when I get into office.
“And it’s a lot of things. It’s not just the hopelessness of, you know, what they see in their lives. And that has other causes, too The AI revolution, the technological revolution which are going to amplify and aggravate a lot of these problems. And they do not see where their future…They do not see a happy ending of this. We’ve got to give them that hope again.
“And there are larger issues about what’s happened to the moral authority of our country. When I was a kid and traveled with my father abroad, literally when I went to Poland, more than a million people came out onto the street. In a country, when it was blacked out that we were even in the country. And my father visited, we visited the Cardinal in Krakow Square, and when we came out, with no press, there were a million people waiting for us.
“And our little black limousine from the Embassy was just jammed in a sea of humanity. And my father pulled me and two, with three of my siblings up onto the roof with my mom, and the crowd sang to us. He made a speech to us in English, and they cheered wildly and then they started singing this song, Sto Lat, a million people, an entire city emptied out. And they sang an anthem that was banned in communist Poland. It was an anti-communist (song) and they began singing, it was a criminal offence to sing it. And they sang it again and again and again to us. I was sitting up on this roof of this car signing autographs, a ten-year-old boy, eleven-year-old boy, and with people just reaching out to touch my father, touch any member of our family. People with tears, smiles on their faces, tears flowing down their faces because they loved our country so much.
“And on that trip, in 64, which was a year after my uncle (JFK) was killed we went to France, and Poland and to Italy and Greece and Germany and the same thing happened everywhere we went. People all around the world loved our country.
They looked to us for moral authority. They were starved for our leadership. They knew the difference between leadership and bullying, which our leaders have forgotten about. Today, an American traveling abroad will encounter just the opposite of that, so…I want to restore the moral authority of this country, and…
“And I’m going to do that by keeping our country out of wars.”
“And by projecting economic power abroad rather than military power. The same way that the Chinese are doing today with their (Belt and Road Program). They’re now the biggest creditor in Latin America, and the same with Africa. We used to be. Now we only import one thing which is war and weapons. And we need to change that.
“You know, my uncle President Kennedy, was asked by one of his best friends Bill Bradly ‘What do you want on your gravestone as your epitaph?’ You know, he said, he kept the peace. He said the primary job of a President of the United States is to keep the country out of war.
(Uproarious extended applause.)
“He said that he didn’t want an African child, when they heard the worlds ‘United States of America’ to think of a man with a gun, in a uniform. He wanted them to think of a Peace Corps volunteer.
“He wanted them to think of the Kennedy Milk Program that gave nutrition to millions of children around the world who were malnourished and hungry. He wanted them to think of the Alliance for Progress and USA AID, which my uncle launched to put America on the side of the poor around the world to build a middle class so that those courtiers can enjoy the stability of democracy like we did, not to impose democracy of a barrel of a gun, but to model it.
“Be the role model, the exemplary nation that America was supposed to be. When we invented modern democracy in 1780. By 1865, by the Civil War, there six democracies in the world all modeled on ours. Today there’s 190. And we fulfilled that destiny, that mission of being an exemplary democracy, but now we don’t model it anymore.
“Our political parties, our leaders, are censoring speech. Our political parties are stifling debate. They’re trying to prevent candidates from running against a president by either suing them like Donald Trump, and I’m not a fan of Donald Trump, that’s why I’m running against him.
“I don’t think we should be a Banana Republic and remove candidates using the courts. Americans…
“I don’t want to beat Donald Trump that way, with half the country angry that they couldn’t vote for a guy they wanted. I don’t want that resentment, that rancor. I don’t want to win by cheating, by getting rid of somebody.
“And they’re trying to prevent other people, me included, by denying us ballot access. The DNC is now announcing that it is litigating against me. To make sure that I can’t get…
(The crowd boos loudly at this point.)
“To make sure that I can’t get ballot access, and my answer to them is why don’t you get a candidate that people believe in?
(Loud sustained cheers, whistles, and chants of “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby.”)
“You know, when we were doing polling prior to my withdrawal from the Democratic party, and I know the DNC was polling, too. And our polling showed President Biden consistently losing to Donald Trump or tying him. They showed me consistently beating Donald Trump if I ran as a Democrat. So, if I ran in the Democratic Party, I was beating President Trump by eight points, I was beating Governor DeSantis by 11 points. And President Biden at the same time was tied with them or losing to them. And so, the Democratic Party chose a candidate that was not its strongest candidate. It had some other reason other than wanting to win.”
(Someone from the crowd yelled “Black Rock” to which Kennedy replied: “Don’t make me laugh.)
“We should let Democracy work in this country. We should be modeling it for the rest of the world. We should be saying to people we’re not a shouldn’t be a banana republic here in the United States and anybody who wants to run, gets to run.
“And let’s let voters decide American elections rather than the parties and the people who run those parties, you know, which are the big you know, military… Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed, Northup Grumman – the big military contractors that give to both parties and call the shots, the big oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies that are now the biggest contributor to the largest industry in the world, the biggest contributor to both political parties, and the credit card companies, the banks, the insurance companies.
“And who owns all those companies?”
(From the crowd: “BlackRock, BlackRock, State Street”)
“Exactly. Black Rock,” Kennedy said.
“I watched the interview with Putin where he says ‘Our red line from the beginning, which we told in private conversations and in public statements was: You can’t move NATO in Ukraine.’ And then he says, ‘They promised us in ’92 (they) wouldn’t move NATO one inch east.’
“Why do we want to move NATO everywhere? Communism had collapsed. All of our most important diplomats were telling Americans, telling our leaders… George Kennan the most important diplomat in America, the architect of the containment policy of WWII said if you treat Russia…it’s not your enemy anymore. It should be welcomed into the community of nations the way we did with Germany and…
“The way that we did with Germany and Japan after WWII. And you know, Putin says he said to Clinton, ‘Why don’t we join NATO and let’s have a shared nuclear defense system.’ We said we were putting missiles in Europe as we were scared of Iran and he (Putin) said let us join you, and we’ll make a collative missile defense system and Clinton said that’s a great idea. And then they never heard anything, and he used his contacts to contact the CIA and the CIA said to them yeah that’s not going to happen, so it overruled the president, (pause) according to Putin. You should watch the show and make up your own mind.
“But why is America so intent on moving NATO and those other nations, well there’s a complexity of reasons, but let me give you one of them. When you join NATO, when a new nation joins NATO, they’re required under the contract to conform their military weapons systems to NATO specifications, which means billions or tens of billions of dollars in new contracts for Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics and Northup Grumman, and those companies are all owned by BlackRock.
“And they make money at it. BlackRock got the contract not only for, for destroying Ukraine, which we’ve done, including killing 450,000 kids, but they also now have the contract for rebuilding it. Which is going to be…estimates are about half a trillion dollars. All the bridges, the buildings, the ports, everything they destroyed they now get paid to rebuild. And this story we’ve been watching time again. I’m being given a signal to shut up, um…”
(Laughs and shouts of “no” from the crowd.)
“I’m going to close and after I close, we’re going to do a selfie line here, so anybody who wants to get their picture taken…
“But I’m going to say this. I said, when I was in Boston and I announced this venture eight months ago, I said that one of the things that I wanted to was to not feed into the rancor, the vilification. Our country is more polarized than it’s been since any time since the Civil War. And it’s toxic. Erik B said we need to be grateful for everything that happens to us. We also, part of that is not hating other people. When you hate somebody, when you resent somebody it’s..
“It’s like swallowing poison and hoping someone else will die. And you know, listen, the press, whenever they interview me, the mainstream media, the one question they are all desperate to know, is there’s four members of your family who don’t want you running for president, how can you be running in that case? And I say, ok, first of all there’s 105 members of my family.
(Raucous laughter erupts from the audience.)
“Does your family agree with everything you do and say?
“And also, I was raised, we were raised to debate one another. We went home every night. My father, what his father did with his nine kids, my father and mother would encourage us to take difficult positions on issue and then argue them with passion. They didn’t care what side we took, they wanted to test our metal by being able to withstand an argument and stand up for things that we believe in. But they also told us that we could have debates with each other, and disagree, but still love each other and be part of the same family.
(Lots of applause.)
“And don’t you think that’s something we ought to be aspiring to as a country?
“So, what I said I was going to is that instead of focusing on these little culture war issues that keep us…that are used to keep us all at each other’s throats, that instead focus on finding and identifying the commonalities, the common values, the shared values that unite us all. Because I know…you know this; when the king…this is all orchestrated to keep that money funneling upward to BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard and to the companies that are buying up all the homes in this state, so that your kids can’t buy them.”
(At this point someone from the crowd yelled, “We’re going over the wall.”)
“We’re going over the wall,” Kennedy said and laughed. “So, you know the king and queen look out of the castle and say we’re okay because everybody’s fighting each other and nobody’s coming over the wall for us. And I want to lead you all over the wall, stop the rancor and take back our country.”
( “Bobby. Bobby, Bobby,” the crowd erupted in a chant.)
“I’m being given the signal. You give me the sword and some ground to stand on and we will go over that wall and take our country back, thank you all very much.”
To watch Robert Kennedy Jr.’s February 10, 2024 campaign speech at St. Cecilia Music center, click here.