Trump Attacks Kennedy on Guns, Energy, and Vaccine Skepticism

Former President Donald Trump has sharpened his criticism of independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., especially attacking his views on guns and energy, and dismissing his doubts about vaccines as “phony.”

In a social media post on May 9, Trump asserted that Kennedy’s stance on vaccines is insincere, claiming that Kennedy had recently expressed support for vaccines despite his past skepticism. Trump warned voters not to be deceived by Kennedy’s purported anti-vaccine position, labeling Kennedy as a proponent of radical leftist Democratic values, instead of a true Republican candidate.

Political analysts have observed a shift in Trump’s rhetoric on the coronavirus vaccine, with some speculating that Trump sees Kennedy as a potential competitor for voters who are cautious about the vaccine. Republican strategist Jason Roe suggested that Trump’s remarks are aimed at preventing Kennedy from swaying voters who are skeptical of the vaccine, as Trump already enjoys strong support in key swing states.

Kennedy has a long history of questioning the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, including the coronavirus vaccine developed through Operation Warp Speed during Trump’s presidency. His campaign has advanced claims linking certain vaccines to autism and alleging that the coronavirus was engineered to target specific races or ethnic groups, further deepening public mistrust in vaccination efforts.

In response to Trump’s attacks, Kennedy’s campaign communications director Del Bigtree suggested that Trump is attempting to win back supporters who are turning away from him, and who are inspired by Kennedy’s message. Trump’s campaign has emphasized his opposition to vaccine mandates and lockdown measures, positioning Trump as a champion for reopening the country and challenging unconstitutional COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite criticism from various quarters about the pandemic response, Trump’s popularity with the Republican base remains largely intact, partly due to the Biden administration’s similar coronavirus death toll and because of Trump’s role in expediting the vaccine’s development. Some conservative commentators have cautioned against Trump’s apparent endorsement of the vaccine, especially given Kennedy’s presence in the political race.

The Trump campaign seems attuned to the possibility that vaccine skepticism resonates with a segment of Republican voters. Recent polling data from Monmouth University indicates a slight uptick in Republican interest in Kennedy upon learning about his skeptical views on vaccines, prompting the Trump team to address this potentially influential voter bloc.

Trump escalated his critique by labeling Kennedy as a Democratic operative intent on assisting Joe Biden’s re-election bid. Trump portrayed Kennedy as an extreme liberal, emphasizing his anti-gun, environmentalist, tax-raising, pro-open border, anti-military, and anti-veteran positions. This portrays Kennedy as a radical leftist, aligning Kennedy with the liberal values Trump opposes.

As the presidential race unfolds, the viability of Kennedy’s candidacy remains uncertain. While he may not command strong support, the potential for Kennedy to influence a close election cannot be dismissed, prompting the Trump campaign to confront Kennedy’s challenge. The Trump campaign is mindful that even a small number of voters in key states could sway the outcome of the election, underscoring the need to address Kennedy’s candidacy and his vaccine skepticism.

Written by Staff Reports

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