Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr.) held a voter rally in Raleigh at the Marriott Hotel on Friday, Jan. 15. The rally is part of his attempt to obtain 83,000 signatures so that the NC Board of Elections will accept his name on the 2024 ballot. After initially running for the Democratic nomination, Kennedy decided to run as an independent candidate. Despite heavy rain on Friday evening, around 1,000 people attended.

“The two former presidents are the most unpopular candidates in American history,” said Kennedy at the beginning of his speech. The latest Gallup poll conducted in December 2023 found that Kennedy is the most favorable of all candidates for the 2024 election, with a 52% favorable rating, surpassing Donald Trump at 42% and Joe Biden at 41%.

Biden is currently the only Democratic candidate on the NC presidential ballot. The Republican Party has seven candidates, including names like Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, and Donald Trump. The Libertarian Party has a total of 10 candidates running for the presidential nomination.

The doors to the rally opened around 6:30 pm, and Kennedy took the podium around 7 pm. Before Kennedy’s speech, attendees were treated to videos of previous speeches, two segments from documentaries made by Kennedy’s media team, and songs like “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen and “More than a Feeling” by Boston. Among other topics, Kennedy discussed chronic disease in children, stating, “America has the highest chronic disease burden in the world.”

Kennedy appealed to NC voters by detailing his experiences in North Carolina during his time as an environmental attorney. He said, “I litigated a lot of cases in Wilmington. I started against the factory farming industry in this state.”

Kennedy received applause when speaking about topics such as taking care of veterans, separating state and corporate entities, and lowering the defense budget. Kennedy said, “We need to protect our neutral areas, and we need a strike capacity. But we don’t need $1.3 trillion to do that.”

After the rally, Kennedy took pictures with any attendee who requested. His team expressed that he does this after every rally, and at his previous rally, he took over 600 photos with attendees.

When asked why they support Kennedy, one attendee said, “Bobby has 40 years of recovery. He goes to nine meetings a week. I have 18 years of recovery. It sends chills down my spine to think, if he becomes president, what that says to people who are struggling with addiction. ‘All you gotta do is get clean. Anything is possible.’ He is the ultimate hope that you can change your life and you can get it together.”

Kennedy said in an interview with Newsnation regarding substance abuse problems in the United States, “I have my own history of addiction. I was an addict for 14 years, starting after my dad died until I was 28 years old. So I am very active in recovery. I have a very good idea for what works and a vision for what we need to do in this country. We need to make addiction treatment easy, simple, and cheap.”

One attendee told Carolina Journal, “He said, ‘The one thing I promise you is that I will tell the truth and that we’ll have the government tell the truth.’ When has the government told us the truth for a very long time? I believe that RFK is the man that is going to bring back the middle class. He understands what’s happening. He called it the strip mining of the middle class.”

Kennedy showed an 18-minute documentary named “Midnight at the Border,” where he travels to Yuma, Arizona, to see the border between Mexico and the United States. He states that most of the movement on the border occurs between 1 am and 3 am and that he wants to see what the problem is. The video continues to show the border, and Arizona Supervisor District 2 Johnathan Lines says, “We’ve seen more people coming from Africa than ever before. China, Russia, even Ukraine, we had a large surge coming from those countries. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan.”

Kennedy and Lines speak to people at the border where they discuss why they are trying to cross the border. They say, “We left because they threatened my family. My wife and my children, they threatened to kill them. They killed our dog.” When asked how much it cost for them to get to the border, they said, “Everything I had in my house. Everything, everything, everything.” The number of migrants crossing at the Yuma border has increased from 68,269 in 2019 to 310,000 in 2022.

Kennedy is affiliated with the anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense (CHD). They say their mission is to “end childhood health epidemics by working aggressively to eliminate harmful exposures, hold those responsible accountable, and establish safeguards to prevent future harm. We fight corruption, mass surveillance, and censorship that put profits before people, as well as advocate for worldwide rights to health freedom and bodily autonomy.”

CHD says that 54% of children are chronically ill. This includes 4 in 10 kids having depression, 1 in 5 kids having obesity, 1 in 5 kids having suicidal thoughts, 1 in 10 having anxiety, and 1 in 36 kids having autism. Kennedy and CHD have released a presentation named “The Vaccine Safety Project,” in which Kennedy discusses his issues with thimerosal; a mercury-based preservative found in 48 million flu shots annually. Kennedy states that mercury impacts boys more often than girls because testosterone amplifies the neurotoxic impacts of the mercury molecule.

The Vaccine Safety Project displays anecdotes of children being diagnosed with autism while also having high levels of mercury present during their mothers’ pregnancy. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that thimerosal and vaccines do not cause autism.

The absentee voter portal is open, and the North Carolina primary election day is March 5, 2024.

Kennedy’s next event is a voter rally in Charleston, West Virginia, on Jan. 27.