Robert F. Kennedy Jr. kicked off his longshot bid for the White House Wednesday by being honest about his past, as he revealed plans to get big pharma out of the government and create peace in Ukraine.
Kennedy, 69, had the reputation of being a serial womanizer and abusing drugs, in the wake of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and his father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's, deaths.
More recently, he's made waves as a prominent anti-vaxxer.
'I told my wife the other day, I said, I've got so many skeletons in my closet that if they could vote, I could be king of the world,' Kennedy told supporters during his nearly two hour-long speech at a hotel in Boston.
In advance of the speech, the Kennedy campaign launched its website, which included six priorities for the Democratic candidate.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (left) kicked off his longshot bid for the White House Wednesday by being honest about his past, as he revealed plans to get big pharma out of the government and create peace in Ukraine. He poses with his wife, actress Cheryl Hines (right)
Kennedy rolled out his campaign website that spelled out six priorities including peace, honest government, the environment, reconciliation, civil liberties and revitalization
In a section on 'honest government,' the Democratic hopeful says that special interests are too entrenched with the government agencies that are supposed to monitor them.
'Wall Street controls the SEC. Polluters and extractive industries dominate the EPA and BLM. Pharma controls the CDC, NIH, and FDA. Big Ag controls the USDA. Big Tech has captured the FTC,' Kennedy said. 'No wonder trust in government is at all-time lows. It's time to earn it back.'
In order todisentangle these entities, Kennedy said he would 'protect whistleblowers and prosecute officials who abuse the public trust.'
'We will rein in the lobbyists and slam shut the revolving door that shunts people from government agencies to lucrative positions in the companies they were supposed to regulate, and back again,' the candidate added.
Kennedy outlined his idea on how to achieve peace in Ukraine as he rolled out his 2024 campaign website on Wednesday
In a section entitled 'peace,' Kennedy laid out what he would do in Ukraine.
'Diplomacy has never really been tried,' Kennedy said. 'We will offer to withdraw our troops and nuclear-capable missiles from Russia's borders.'
He argued that would entice Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
'UN peacekeepers will guarantee peace to the Russian-speaking eastern regions,' he continued. 'We will put an end to this war.'
During his address, he said that discussions about the war needed to be more nuanced.
'We can't tell one side that they're Nazis and the other side that they love Putin,' he said.
Kennedy said the U.S. government needed to be clear about why we're aiding Ukraine.
'It is not in America's national interest to push Russia closer to China,' Kennedy argued. 'It's not in America'snational interest to involve us in something that could lead to a nuclear exchange.'
'We are in Ukraine for the right reasons,' Kennedy also said. 'We are there because of our compassion for the Ukrainian people who've been brutalized, who've been illegally invaded.'
But Kennedy questioned the cost of supporting Kyiv.
'We have money for wars and we have money to bail [out] bankers,' he said. 'But what happens to American people who hit hard times?' he mused.
Other priorities Kennedy outlined included 'healing the divide' - turning down the hyper-partisanship in the country.
Actress Cheryl Hines (left) hugs her husband Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (right) onstage Wednesday at his 2024 announcement in Boston
In his announcement speech, he spoke of the divisions within his own family - noting how a number of them did not support his presidential bid.
Several of his family members have ambassador roles in the current Biden administration.
But he said if they can respect one another, there's hope for the broader country.
'No one is deplorable,' his policy platform said - a word once used by Hillary Clinton to characterize supporters of former President Donald Trump.
'Everyone wants their children to be safe. Few relish the thought of dead fetuses, nor do they want to force women to have unwanted babies. Everyone wants safe streets, yet few wish for millions of people to languish in prison,' Kennedy's policy document went on.
While Kennedy didn't explicitly back reparations, he said he would help heal the country's racial wounds by implementing a program of 'Targeted Community Repair.'
'In the case of race relations, reconciliation includes repairing the damage caused by centuries of bigotry,' he said. 'Our operating principle is not guilt for the sins of one’s ancestors, but rather compassion. We will invoke the authentic desire in all Americans, white and black, liberal and conservative, to improve the condition of our Black and Native brothers and sisters.'
Kennedy said he would not 'defund the police,' as some progressive Democrats have pushed for, instead transforming them to have a less adversarial relationship with the public
Kennedy said another one of his six priorities is civil liberties - but said he would not 'defund the police.'
Instead, he said, 'we will transform the police.'
'We will incentivize them to prevent violence, not make unnecessary arrests,' he said. 'No longer will their relationship to the public be adversarial.'
Kennedy, a drug offender himself, also vowed to grant amnesty to nonviolent drug criminals.
He also promised to end the 'censorship-industrial complex,' in which he claimed that 'big tech' was deplatforming and censoring Americans the government asked them to.
In August, Facebook and Instagram suspended Kennedy's nonprofit from the social media sites, accusing it of spreading medical misinformation.
In a section on 'revitalization' Kennedy vowed to 'reverse America’s economic decline' and tackle the country's 'widening wealth gap' which he calls 'the most unequal since the 1920s.'
He said that his administration would make 'government assistance to the nation's most vulnerable a high priority.'
His campaign website lashes out at 'misguided "free trade" schemes' and how the U.S. economy has been 'ruined by forty years of off-shoring.'
Kennedy claims that he will 'enact policies that favor small and medium businesses' but fails to spell out what those policies actually are.
And in an apparent nod to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, he said he would back 'labor in reclaiming its fair share of American prosperity. '
'We will break up “too-big-to-fail” banks and monopolies, and when crisis strikes, bail out the homeowners, debtors, and small business owners instead,' the website says.
Finally, RFK - who was known for his environmental advocacy long before he became a prominent anti-vaxxer - said he would'address the most pressing environmental problems in America and beyond' as president of the United States.
'Good environmental policy – 100% of the time – is identical to good economic policy,' his campaign website states.
He says his administration would rethink how agricultural subsidies are handed out.
The policy overhaul would reshape them 'to encourage regenerative practices' such as 'building soil, replenishing groundwater, and detoxifying land.'
'Secondly, we will incentivize the transition of industry to zero-waste cycles and clean energy sources, and forge agreements with other countries to implement these policies throughout the global supply chain.
'These first two policies will vastly reduce the toxic waste, industrial poisons, and pesticides that make people and ecosystems sick,' his website said.
The Kennedy campaign also says it will protect wild lands with a crackdown on 'mining, logging, oil drilling, and suburban sprawl.'
'We will become a global advocate for rainforest preservation and marine restoration,' his website says.
But RFK's team provided no details on how his administration would convince countries such as China and India, which use huge amounts of coal, to follow green policies.