Republican voters in Iowa would like to see vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. tasked with regulating American drugs or leading the country’s public health efforts, a new exclusive poll has found, even if he runs for president in as a Democratic candidate.
RFK Jr. has become well known for pushing debunked vaccine theories and wild ideas about viruses.
But a survey of 600 Iowa Republicans who are likely to play a role in selecting the 2024 GOP nominee found his assault on the health care establishment is gaining traction.
They backed the idea of putting him in charge of the Centers for Disease Control or the Food and Drug Administration by a margin of nearly three to one.
Some 48% approved of the proposal, which was floated last month by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in his run for president. Only 17% said they were opposed.
JL Partners interviewed 600 likely Republican caucus attendees in Iowa from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7. The results have a margin of error of +/- four percent.
Robert J. Kennedy Jr. votes about 15% in the Democratic primary race. But his attack on the health establishment has won him admirers from the right-wing Republican Party
It illustrates how RFK Jr’s long-running campaign has attracted Republicans who want their candidate to stand up to a scientific consensus they say has failed them during the pandemic.
His name also comes up in discussions on the selection of a vice-president.
Some 40% of those polled said he could make a good running mate for the eventual Republican nominee, including half of those who said they support former President Donald Trump.
But opinion is more divided than putting him at the head of a health agency. Some 29% said they were opposed to putting him on the 2024 Republican ticket.
James Johnson, co-founder of JL Partners who conducted the poll for DailyMail.com, said: “RFK may not appeal to Democrats, but he certainly pushes the right Republican buttons.”
“Although controversial as a GOPVP choice, he is considered an attractive appointment to the FDA or CDC
“It’s not the sort of thing that would have a major impact on voters either way, but it does show that DeSantis’ comments were less out of touch with his electorate than some Republican talking heads might have suggested.”
His promotion of theories that circulate in the darkest fringes of the internet alarms health professionals and centrist candidates.
But DeSantis appeared to offer him a job during an interview with OutKick’s Clay Travis, who asked him about Kennedy as a possible running mate.
Republican voters are more divided on whether RFK Jr would make a good choice for vice president
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, seen here Friday in Atlantic, Iowa, floated the idea that Kennedy could take on a health care role under his administration during an interview last month
Focus is moving to Iowa this week as candidates flock to its state fair. Former Vice President Mike Pence is seen here posing for selfies with his wife Karen
He dismissed that idea, pointing out that Kennedy was out of step with many Republicans on issues such as climate change.
“If you’re the president, you know, put him in the FDA if he’s ready to serve, or put him in the CDC,” he said.
The idea was quickly condemned by other Republicans in the race. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who said “pro-abortion Democrats” would not be allowed to play such roles if he won the election.
DeSantis then changed tack, saying he meant Kennedy could suit a bipartisan task force that would oversee the agencies.
“It wouldn’t be…he would be the head of the CDC,” he said. ‘It would be a doctor or a PhD.’
The Kennedy campaign did not respond to questions about whether he was interested in those roles.
In the Democratic primary, he consistently polls around 15%, according to a rolling average maintained by political website FiveThirtyEight.
Republicans have swallowed his attacks on Anthony Fauci, the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the faces of the Trump administration’s pandemic response.
The former Donald Trump is still the favorite in our poll of Republicans in Iowa
He said he would prosecute Fauci if “crimes are committed”.
But any official role in government would be deeply controversial.
His anti-vaccine stance dates back to at least 2005 and he continues to peddle unverified and debunked theories.
Last month he claimed in a podcast interview that “there is no safe and effective vaccine” and he clings to a false scientific report that childhood vaccines against mumps, measles and rubella can cause autism.
At a New York restaurant fundraiser, he reportedly said COVID-19 was a bioweapon that could have been “ethnically targeted” to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.
He later said the report was wrong and he did not believe the virus was deliberately engineered to target a certain ethnic group.
“I have never, ever suggested that the COVID-19 virus was meant to spare Jews,” Kennedy wrote on Twitter.
Instead, he said he wanted to demonstrate that the virus offered proof of concept for ethnically targeted bioweapons.