Ayahuasca, Abortion And Brain Worms At An RFK Jr. Rally In Colorado

AURORA, Colo. — RFK Jr.’s supporters have no concern whatsoever about a worm that (allegedly) ate a chunk of their presidential hopeful’s brain a dozen or so years ago.

At an overflowing rally Sunday in a refurbished warehouse in the Denver suburbs, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s brain worm didn’t make much of an appearance, despite dominating the headlines after the revelation about the long-shot candidate just a few weeks prior. Instead, the rally highlighted the same issues that have helped Kennedy turn heads among Trump’s more conspiratorial supporters.

A sprinkle of T-shirts throughout the almost entirely white crowd implored others to “Buy Bitcoin.” People wearing septum rings and hats with the slogan “Make Earth Great Again” mingled while a band played “Fortunate Son” onstage without a hint of irony.

In conversations with HuffPost, enthusiastic attendees readily employed buzzwords from the activist lawyer’s books to explain their support. Phrases like “big pharma,” “forever wars” and “the chronic disease epidemic” were interspersed with jabs at Anthony Fauci and gripes about “toxins” in our food and water causing a litany of problems.

“Fundamentally I think the problem is that our political system has become calcified and a two-party system,” said Evan, a 29-year-old in software sales who declined to share his last name.

“There’s too much corporate capture,” he continued. “So you end up voting on mostly superfluous issues because the foundational bedrock of a two-party system is that they’re both owned and bought by the same aristocracy.”

When asked, none expressed a lick of consternation about Bobby’s brain parasite. Several hadn’t heard the news and said they would need to do their own research. But the effect of political ear worms — memorable if often vaguely defined phrases — was apparent.

Notably absent was any talk about issues that are currently dogging Trump-era Republicans — especially abortion. None of the Kennedy supporters who spoke with HuffPost mentioned abortion on their own, yet all said they were very concerned about it when prompted. All had widely different takes. (This may explain RFK’s own inconsistencies on the matter.)

Ivery, a Black man who wanted to only be identified by his first name, felt strongly that abortion should be banned six weeks after conception.

Others, like 66-year-old Kathryn Gebhardt, strongly disagreed. “Nobody’s over my body,” she said.

Another attendee, Pat Henry, told HuffPost she thought the issue should be “left to the states” to decide, echoing Donald Trump’s own spin on the issue.

A 69-year-old retired engineer named Wayne Young declined to share his thoughts entirely, calling it a “lose/lose subject” and a “wedge issue” that “causes dissension and friction.”

Kennedy speaks during a voter rally at The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, Colorado on May 19, 2024.
Kennedy speaks during a voter rally at The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, Colorado on May 19, 2024. Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images via Getty Images

Others had more unique pet causes. Stephen Freas, a 47-year-old who told HuffPost he’s currently homeless and unemployed, hoped Kennedy would expedite the release of information concerning the assassination of his uncle.

“If Kennedy wins, he should have the authority to release the JFK files, which I think would be super awesome,” he said. Freas added that Kennedy’s pledge to end “endless wars” was also a motivating factor in his support.

Another attendee — a Republican who voted for Trump in 2020 and asked to remain anonymous — just wanted to hear from a candidate who’s “not a Trump asslicker.”

Judging from the applause lines during Kennedy’s speech, Sunday’s crowd skewed more anti-Biden than anti-Trump. But it’s unclear how much of a Biden spoiler Kennedy might actually be in the state, should he make the ballot: Of the 11 people who spoke with HuffPost, only two voted for Biden in 2020. Two others (one Republican and one Democrat) voted for Trump. The rest voted for Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen or wrote in their own names.

One of the Biden voters, an Afghanistan combat veteran turned psychedelic therapist named Mark Cunningham, said he admired RFK’s “open-mindedness and humility,” including about his son’s use of Ayahuasca to process the death of his mother.

“All of our politicians should be required to have a date with Ayahuasca,” he said, laughing.

Kennedy’s entourage included former Pussycat Dolls member Jessica Sutta, a self-described “vaccine injury advocate” who told the crowd she was “severely injured” by Moderna’s COVID vaccine. “We need to get that off the market,” she told the audience.

Team Kennedy communications director Del Bigtree, a prominent anti-vaccine conspiracist, introduced the candidate while slamming the COVID vaccine for having “made a mutant virus” and blaming Biden for COVID policy decisions that had actually happened under Trump.

Kennedy himself took the stage two hours late, a delay necessary to allow the unexpectedly large crowd to filter through security. He offered no specifics on abortion, guns or protecting the border, mainstays of the Trump and Biden campaigns that he dismissed as “mainly culture war issues.”

Instead, the candidate zeroed in on the budget deficit and protecting rights already enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, like free speech, all while laying out a strategy to the November ballot that runs through the CNN presidential debate on June 27.

The campaign is now engaged in an all-out sprint to earn a place on the debate stage. CNN has offered him a podium if he can both 1) poll above 15% in four high-quality national polls and 2) earn a spot on the ballot in enough states to theoretically win 270 electoral votes.

Kennedy claimed without evidence Sunday to have already secured ballot access in states that could grant him a potential 201 electoral votes, with enough signatures for 343 by June 20, the last day to qualify. He’s also polled at 16% in two polls, with two more remaining.