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Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the political scion with the famous last name who’s running as an independent for president, is also infamous for his stances against vaccines.
Vaccines are safe and effective and have been credited with stopping the spread of diseases like measles, mumps and rubella, polio and global pandemics. Despite the solid evidence, people like RFK Jr. — with no expertise and who refuse to listen to experts — have spread disinformation about them, playing on false conspiracy theories.
He’s repeatedly falsely claimed that vaccines are not “safe and effective” and he even said, among other things, “I see somebody on a hiking trail carrying a little baby and I say to him, better not get them vaccinated.”
And yet, he claimed at a congressional hearing in July: “I have never been anti-vax. I have never told the public to avoid vaccination.”
That’s an obvious lie. But it might indicate Kennedy — who is the son of Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy — knows that an anti-vaccine stance is not politically popular outside the segment that deeply, and falsely, disbelieves in their effectiveness.
Despite that, he’s made similar statements recently on the campaign trail before friendly crowds.
“I’m gonna say to NIH scientists, ‘God bless you all. Thank you for public service. We’re going to give infectious disease a break for about eight years,’ ” he pledged at an anti-vaccine conference in Georgia earlier this month.
He’s trying to capitalize on the sentiment that is widespread in some circles that buy into these false claims. He’s pairing that with his heterodox views on corporate and political power, which, combined, offers a message that has an appeal and a certain resonance with a not-insignificant number of people.
Despite – or perhaps because of these kinds of controversial stances – RFK Jr. has been coming back with some eye-popping polling results.
Surveys have shown him polling higher than any third-party candidate in 40 years.
As CNN’s Harry Enten notes, that 22% is the highest any independent candidate has polled since Ross Perot in 1992. Perot wound up with 19% of the vote, the highest of any…
Read More: RFK Jr.’s poll numbers remain high : NPR