Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. held a standing-room only rally at Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace Sunday. Kennedy, a member of the famous political dynasty, built his reputation in the 1980s as an environmental lawyer, and more recently as an anti-vaccine activist, known for his belief in conspiracies surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kennedy’s campaign platform is a mix of anti-vaccine populism that resonates with conservative and libertarian voters, and anti-corporate messaging that resonates with progressives.

“As long as you vote for either side of this duopoly, there is no way to vote against big pharma capture,” said Theo Wilson, a Denver slam poet who now serves as a Kennedy campaign advisor. “There’s no way to vote against Citizens United. There is no way to vote against the interests of BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street buying up these homes, making life unaffordable.”

Concerns about asset managers like BlackRock were also used by Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy who, during his primary campaign last year, compared these firms to a “cartel” and claimed they want to usher in ESG policies around issues like diversity and the environment at American companies at the expense of shareholders’ best financial interests.

While Wilson described the two-party system as a “duopoly,” he had particular ire for Democrats. “I did not leave the Democrats,” he said. “The Democrats left me. They left me standing, holding my values while they went in, pursued the values of their donor class … I don’t recognize these Black-vote-abandoning pharmaceutical company lackeys anymore.”

Wilson isn’t the only former Democrat working for Team Kennedy. Del Bigtree, Kennedy’s communications director, described himself as a “lifelong liberal progressive” to NPR in 2021. Bigtree produced the 2016 film “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” which argues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attempted to cover up a purported link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The film was based on the work of British anti-vaccine activist Andrew Wakefield, who was removed from the UK’s medical register for his involvement in a 1998 study that fraudulently claimed a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Multiple subsequent studies failed to find any link between the MMR vaccine, colitis, and autism, but these claims are at the heart of what the Kennedy campaign calls the “chronic disease epidemic,” one of the major platforms of his campaign.


“Do you want to live in a country where your president, like Joe Biden, forces you to take that ninth booster shot or you lose your job the same way he did with the first vaccine?” asked Bigtree, who has spoken frequently at the Red Pill Expo, an annual conspiracy conference. “I think you will have the choice. Any choice is obvious. We need a leader that does not rush pharmaceutical products on to the planet, brag about it, watch people get injured, force people to take it, lock down our government, lock down our jobs, lock down our nation.”

During the event, Kennedy volunteers collected petition signatures to get Kennedy onto the Colorado ballot. “We need to have 12,500 [signatures] to qualify [on the ballot] in [Colorado],” said Kennedy. “The state has unusual rules because we have to get 1,500 from each of the eight congressional districts. We’re well on our way to doing that. Within two days, we have over 20,000 [signatures], so it’s almost double what we need.”

Kennedy rejected claims that as a third-party candidate he was a “spoiler” for the presidential race, drawing critical votes away from Biden. “In a three-way race, if the election happened today and I stay in the race, President Biden cannot win the race,” said Kennedy, citing a recent Zogby poll. “Here’s the definition of spoiler: A spoiler is somebody who cannot win the race, who will disrupt the expectations of somebody who can. In this format, I cannot be a spoiler because I can win the race. President Trump also cannot be a spoiler, because he can win the race. President Biden cannot win the race.”

Kennedy outlined plans for a non-interventionist foreign policy, criticizing military spending for Ukraine and Israel. “​​We spent $8 trillion over the past 20 years, bombing bridges and ports and schools and universities and hospitals and airports,” he said. “The Chinese, during that same period spent $8 trillion building those things. And as a result, today they are the biggest creditor nation in virtually every nation in Latin America, almost all the nations in Africa, and many in Asia, and they have friends all over the world.”

Kennedy also urged greater cooperation with world leaders, including one who hasn’t been in office for over a decade. “We need to be sitting down with other world leaders, with people like President Xi [Jinping, of China] and President [Vladimir] Putin [of Russia] and President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad [of Iran]. We can’t afford to be at war anymore. We have to fight for the salvation of humanity.”

Ahmadinejad left office in 2013, and Iran’s current president, Ebrahim Raisi, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. Despite Kennedy’s embrace of conspiracy theories and inaccurate comments about world leaders, his message resonated with the capacity crowd.

Leslie (right)

“We’ve been following him on alternative media for probably about a year or more, and we just love his passion for wanting to do good for our country and the people of this country,” said Lisa Lynn, who said she hasn’t voted for a presidential candidate since Ron Paul. “All the incredible things that he’s done as far as cleaning up the environment and just really helping so many people and concerned about our health. Just on so many points, so many good things that we have hope now for the future.”

Kennedy’s message is also appealing to younger voters. “I voted for Biden, and I shouldn’t have done that,” said Leslie. “I love almost everything Bobby stands behind, and that’s super interesting because I’ve never felt that way about other candidates. So I had to come support him.”

Next month, Kennedy’s nonprofit, Children’s Health Defense will hold a $75 “Up Close and In Person” event at the Human Universal Health Institute in Denver. In September, Denver will also host the Independent National Convention, featuring Kennedy.