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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he opposed removal of Confederate monuments

RFK Jr. claims to qualify for Texas ballot
RFK Jr. campaign submits signatures for Texas ballot access 02:57

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he opposed the removal of Confederate statues, recalling that he had a "visceral reaction against" the destruction of monuments honoring southern leaders from the Civil War.

The top Confederate general, Robert E. Lee, had "extraordinary qualities of leadership" that deserve to be celebrated, Kennedy said Friday in an interview with the conservative podcast host Tim Pool on the Timcast IRL.

"There were heroes in the Confederacy who didn't have slaves," Kennedy said when asked about the monuments. "And, you know ... I just have a visceral reaction to this destroying history. I don't like it. I think we should celebrate who we are. And that, you know, we should celebrate the good qualities of everybody."

Celebrating only people who were "completely virtuous" would mean erasing all of history, Kennedy said.

The comment is another controversial pronouncement from the former Democrat, who is waging an uphill battle to become the first person since George Washington to be elected president without a political party affiliation.

Kennedy, who is trying to stitch together a coalition of Americans disaffected with both major parties, has promoted himself as a fierce advocate for free speech who is willing to take controversial stands in his bid for the presidency. Allies of both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively, view Kennedy with trepidation and worry that Kennedy will earn enough support to tilt the election.

Activists have pushed for years to remove monuments and rename buildings that honor leaders of the Confederacy, calling them symbols of racism.

"We need to be able to be sophisticated enough to live with, you know, our ancestors who didn't agree with us on everything and who did things that are now regarded as immoral or wrong, because they, you know, maybe they had other qualities," Kennedy said.

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