Anti-vaxxer, conspiracy theorist and 2024 Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was criticized after he said he is "proud" that former Republican President Donald Trump "likes me" during a town hall on NewsNation about being praised by several far-right figures.
During the town hall, moderator Elizabeth Vargas brought up the support RFK Jr. has received from right-wing figures like Tucker Carlson and raised concerns that his candidacy could potentially harm President Biden and benefit Trump. Vargas asked Kennedy about his opinion of Trump as a person.
"Here’s what I’m not going to do in this race. I’m not going to attack other people personally. I don’t think it’s good for our country. And what I’m trying to do in this race is bring people together, is try to bridge to divide between Americans."
"I’m proud that President Trump likes me even though I don’t agree with him on most of his issues because I don’t want to alienate people. I want to bring people together."
You can hear what Kennedy said in the video below.
Kennedy did go on to criticize Democrats however, suggesting they don't engage with voters by meeting somewhere in the middle.
"I’m proud that all these people like me and that I have independent supporters and Democratic supporters, and that I’m able to—you know, every Democrat says ‘I want to end the polarization.' But how do you do that without talking to people that don’t agree with you?"
"How do you do that without appealing to people? My purpose is to find the issues, values we have in common."
Many criticized Kennedy for his statements.
Kennedy's open display of pride over Trump "liking" him is notable as he previouly referred to Trump as a "demagogue."
In an interview with USAToday last May, Kennedy lamented that the "middle class in our country that has sustained democracy... now feels abandoned and is migrating to demagogues like" Trump.
Following his NewsNation town hall, Kennedy issued a statement in which he stated that "'Demagogue' is only one lens through which to understand a man like Donald Trump."
He proceeded to walk back his prior remarks, saying he does not "want to reduce [Trump] to that epithet" because dehumanizing "one's opponents is one reason why this country is so divided; it is also a precursor to war and violence."