Dozens gathered in the blazing heat at Williams Park in St. Petersburg Tuesday to hear from the rising star of the Democratic Party, Rep. Joe Kennedy III. Despite the oppressive high noon sun, a spirited crowd greeted a cast of Democratic politicians to rally for healthcare, including Mayor Rick Kriseman, Rep. Kathy Castor, Rep. Charlie Crist and the wife of Senator Bill Nelson, Grace Nelson.
Each of the speakers shared their thoughts on the importance of the upcoming 2018 midterm elections in November, and the election’s pivotal role in the status quo of politics and healthcare policy. The most anticipated speaker was Kennedy, of Massachusetts.
Of the famed Kennedy brood, Joe Kennedy III is the grandson of former U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy and grand-nephew of President John F. Kennedy, and Senator Ted Kennedy. He came to the forefront of the Democratic party earlier this year, when he was chosen to give the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
Kennedy, who some regard as the fresh new face of the Democratic Party, spoke with a cadence reminiscent of former President Barack Obama. Taking numerous pauses for emphasis, he was clear on his stance. “We are here to proclaim that healthcare is a right – period,” he said.
Kennedy also reminded the crowd of the importance of Florida for the midterm elections. “Every November, the nation’s eyes turn to Florida.
“You are big state. You are a diverse state. You are a populous state. You are a swing state. What happens in Florida is so much bigger than just Florida. It means the future of healthcare for millions across this country, not just millions of Floridians. It means a step back to a road forward.”
When asked how he plans to bring American voters together on healthcare issues, Kennedy told the Catalyst that the most important thing for voters to see is the “difference in visions for healthcare between Republican and Democrats.”
“I think there’s two big steps, one is trying to make sure that the American public understands exactly what the vision is for healthcare under president Trump,” he said.
“I think they’ve made that very clear with their effort to take away healthcare from roughly 30 million people, the re-imposition of pre-existing condition denials, and the absolute devastation of Medicaid, which is the largest payer of mental health and addiction treatment in the country – to the tune of 800 billion dollars.
“The second is to talk about – to put the marker down – on what a Democratic vision looks like – and yes, there are some big ideas out there.”
Click through the gallery below to see more photos from Tuesday’s rally.