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RFK’s Running Mate Dishes Dirt

Running mate
Nicole Shanahan speaks at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas | Image by Kellen McGovern Jones/The Dallas Express

AUSTIN — Nicole Shanahan, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s vice presidential running mate, addressed a rally at Brazos Hall in Austin last week during her first campaign appearance in Texas.

Shanahan spoke on May 13 about soil quality.

“Soil isn’t much of a political issue,” she said, noting that it never appears in surveys along with other issues like immigration and gun control. Then, she noted that soil is the root of America’s chronic disease problem. She highlighted the overuse of chemicals and the lack of regenerative agricultural practices as partly to blame. These things, in her view, deplete the soil, cause disease, and deprive Americans of nutrients.

This is an issue she believes mothers understand best because of the health of their children.

“Moms, you all get this,” she said, pointing to mothers in the audience.

“It isn’t just that our soils are depleted. Our people are, too,” she added. She noted skyrocketing consumer debt, declining overall health, and chronic pain as evidence in support of her assessment.

Shanahan also framed pollution as a soil issue. Specifically, she addressed “forever chemicals” like PFAS and pesticides as destroying American soil — even in Texas, as covered previously in The Dallas Express.

The Kennedy campaign has repeatedly raised pesticides as an important issue. For instance, The Dallas Express recently asked RFK Jr. what he would do about the herbicide glyphosate accumulating in Texas water if he was elected president.

“The [National Institute of Health], because it is captured by the chemical industry, does not do the kind of studies [and] does not require the kind of studies that need to be done to determine the safety of these products — and because of that, the manufacturers get to keep poisoning people and animals, etc., without any consequences,” Kennedy said.

“I am going to shift NIH’s priorities to do those studies,” he added. “I cannot tell you that we are going to ban every bad chemical, but I can put enough science out there that the lawyers can now litigate against the chemical company and let the market shut down that chemical very quickly.”

Notably, governmental resources differ wildly from non-governmental resources on the safety of glyphosate.

The NIH has studies in its digital library that remark that “glyphosate is less toxic to farmers’ health than other pesticides,” and the EPA website states, “[There] are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label.”

However, the World Health Organization has considered glyphosate to be a carcinogen for around a decade, and Monsanto, glyphosate’s manufacturer, has been paying out billions in class action settlements to non-Hodgkins lymphoma patients who developed cancer after working with the herbicide, DX previously reported.

Kennedy noted how impressed he was with Shanahan during the rally in Austin. He recalled that vice presidential candidates who, like Shanahan, have come from outside the political realm often “collapse” in the public spotlight — but not her.

He spoke encouragingly of his running mate and marveled at the audience’s warm response to a speech on soil. “There is no political scientist in the world that would tell you you’ve got to do a lecture on soil — they’ll love it!”

To Kennedy’s point, the audience had greeted Shanahan’s speech with tremendous warmth and applause.

The event was one of Shanahan’s first traditional stops since joining the campaign in March. She made her first campaign stop alone in Kentucky earlier this month. Several days ago, she gave a brief speech at a nightclub in Houston on criminal justice reform and took questions from the audience.

Both Kennedy and Shanahan are lawyers with long connections to efforts to improve human and environmental health. Kennedy is a famed environmental and consumer protection lawyer, while Shanahan is a former scientist and investor in Linus Biotechnology Inc., a biotech firm.

Earlier in the day, the duo submitted the last two boxes of petition signatures so they could appear on the Texas general election ballot.

“We had a historic day today in Texas. We handed in just under 250,000 signatures. That is more than any other presidential candidacy in the history of Texas and in the history of our country,” Kennedy said, noting that the campaign had crossed a challenging electoral hurdle unique to Texas.

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