Robert Kennedy Jr. Takes Stage at Bitcoin 2023 in First Appearance as Candidate

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By Landon Manning

In his first public appearance since announcing his candidacy for the 2024 U.S. presidential election, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gave a keynote address at the Bitcoin 2023 conference in Miami, where he declared fierce support for Bitcoin.

Son of famous attorney general and senator Robert F. Kennedy, or “Bobby” Kennedy, and nephew of the former president John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy Jr. has been in the public spotlight for much of his adult life. An environmental lawyer by trade, Kennedy has never served in a prominent role in the federal government, but his practice and the nonprofits he has founded have displayed a lifelong commitment to environmentalism. Additionally, he has been a long-term critic of U.S. foreign intervention, including issues like the use of torture in the Iraq War or military presence in Syria. His skepticism of vaccines and COVID-19 policies have featured heavily in most of the coverage around his campaign announcement from April 2023. 

As he described to the audience at Bitcoin 2023, the controversial Canadian trucker protests of 2022, during which the government took the dramatic step of freezing bank accounts related to the protest, forcing some protestors to turn to bitcoin as an alternative, was what first introduced Kennedy to the potential of Bitcoin.

“​​None of these lawful and peaceful protestors had violated any law,” he said. “But suddenly, they found that they could not access their money, their bank accounts to pay their mortgages or feed their families.” 

He added that this dramatic event led him to “realize for the first time how free money is as important as free expression,” and since then, he has been interested in Bitcoin.

Kennedy has made outspoken support for Bitcoin a pillar of his candidacy, saying onstage that, “As president, I will make sure that your right to hold and use bitcoin is inviolable. I am an ardent defender and lifelong defender of civil liberties, and Bitcoin is both an exercise and a guarantee of those freedoms.”

He emphasized the importance for users to self custody their assets without the use of any exchange or other intermediaries, and he claimed that he would support the U.S. as a center of Bitcoin by fighting against encroaching mining regulations. He also discussed the possible pardoning of Ross Ulbricht, a cause célèbre among Bitcoiners. 

Kennedy’s candidacy is somewhat uncertain at this point, even though polls show him in the number-two spot behind President Biden. Although most Americans, and even most Democrats, do not want the 80-year-old Joe Biden to run for re-election, many Democrats are prepared to vote for him again if it comes down to it.

Regardless of how the run proceeds, it is highly encouraging that Bitcoin is becoming such a popular discussion topic in yet another presidential election. It can only be positive news that Bitcoin’s message will reach millions more homes as it becomes a household name.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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