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Red Brick Tavern, a local bar located on North Court Street in Athens.

RFK Jr.’s campaign comes to Athens

The campaign for presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. hosted a screening of the biographical documentary film "The Real RFK Jr.," at Red Brick Tavern, 14 N. Court St. The documentary detailed Kennedy's early life, environmental work and involvement in the anti-vaccine movement. 

Campaign volunteers planned the screening for Kennedy's presidential bid. Elizabeth Frost, a volunteer grassroots campaign organizer, put together the event at Red Brick after receiving an offer to rent the space from owner Daniel Deluca, she said.

About 10 of the 16 people who reserved a spot for the watch party were in attendance. 

Frost said she hoped the screening would allow Ohio University students to familiarize themselves with candidates other than former President Donald Trump or President Joe Biden.

"I think that students at Ohio University deserve to see who he really is, what he really represents and what he's done for all of us so far with his work as an environmental advocate and public health advocate," she said.

Multiple attendees said they supported Kennedy because of their frustrations with the current presidential candidates. Jet Wilson, a Zanesville resident, said he feels media publications ignore Kennedy.

Wilson also emphasized his support for Kennedy because he was dissatisfied with Biden.

"I'm an ex-Biden supporter, so I'm also fed up with (his handling of the Gaza conflict), even though RFK Jr.'s policy isn't all that different," Wilson said. "It is somewhat different. I used to live in the Middle East, so the whole Gaza thing ticked me off. And so that was a big part of it, too. That really made me start looking around. There's gotta be somebody else?"

His policies also attracted voters like Mark Harris, who is a junior studying political science.

"(Kennedy) wants to return to what we had in the last century where young people could afford to buy houses, start families and buy into equity that way, (and) participate in the U.S. economic system," he said.

Kennedy also supported environmental causes for several years in Appalachia, which could resonate with voters from Southeast Ohio and the Appalachian region, Frost said.

However, Kennedy has come under fire for his involvement in anti-vaccine movements. Kennedy serves as the founder and chairman of Children's Health Defense, a nonprofit supporting anti-vaccine disinformation. He has also falsely linked vaccines to autism and other neurodivergent conditions. 

"The Real RFK. Jr" delved into his anti-vaccine work, and a large portion of the documentary was focused on Kennedy's involvement in vaccine conspiracies.

Anti-vaccine policies are largely unpopular among Americans, according to the Pew Research Center. Despite that, supporters of Kennedy believe that his campaign made progress across Ohio because of his policies, Harris said.

"He's definitely doing well with the younger demographic," Harris said. "I think housing is a big part of that. I think it's on the minds of a lot of young voters. If not right now, I'm sure within the next four years when they leave college, that's going to be a big thing. Where are you going to go? Where are you going to live?"


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