The Time Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Wife Cheryl Hines Called His Rally Remarks 'Reprehensible'

Politicians' spouses are tasked with publicly supporting their partner at all times, even when it seems impossible. Pat Nixon stoically stood by the president when his involvement in Watergate forced him to resign. Hillary Clinton endured the humiliation of her husband's infidelity. Even Melania and Donald Trump's marriage continues to survive (somehow). But when presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made an outrageous comment, his wife, Cheryl Hines, couldn't remain silent. 

Kennedy, a noted environmental champion, is also an outspoken critic of vaccines and vaccination mandates. He's come under fire for continuing to preach the long-debunked link between childhood vaccines and autism. During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he frequently condemned vaccination requirements and Dr. Anthony Fauci's handling of the crisis. At one anti-vax rally, Kennedy shockingly suggested that America had become as oppressive and dangerous as Germany during the Nazi regime. "Even in Hitler's Germany, you could cross the Alps to Switzerland," he declared. "You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did," (via People).

Fans on Twitter urged Hines, of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" fame, to respond, and so she did. Initially, Kennedy's spouse tried to stay neutral — "While we love each other, we differ on many current issues" — but later shared a stronger statement. "My husband's reference to Anne Frank at a mandate rally in D.C. was reprehensible and insensitive," she tweeted. "The atrocities that millions endured during the Holocaust should never be compared to anyone or anything. His opinions are not a reflection of my own."

RFK Jr.'s siblings also oppose his anti-vax views

Having declared his candidacy for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. hopes to carry on his family's proud tradition of becoming a major voice in American politics. If elected, he would become the fifth president directly related to a previous POTUS (following the Adamses, Harrisons, Roosevelts, and Bushes). Like his late father, Robert F. Kennedy Sr., and his uncle, John F. Kennedy, he holds liberal stances on many social and economic issues, and as the founder of the Waterkeeper Alliance, he makes environmental reform a priority.

"We will end the forever wars, clean up government, increase wealth for all, and tell Americans the truth," the presidential hopeful promises on his campaign website. It's also guaranteed to be a tough battle. Apart from the challenge of trying to win votes away from supporters of President Joe Biden, RFK Jr. must also sway voters who disagree with his stance on vaccines. Among them are members of his own family. In 2019, his siblings Joe Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and niece Maeve Kennedy McKean wrote an editorial for Politico condemning his views. 

They accused Robert Jr. of dissuading parents from having their children inoculated against contagious diseases, leading to an increase in cases of measles and other dangerous illnesses. "We love Bobby," they affirmed. "He is one of the great champions of the environment. ... However, on vaccines he is wrong. And his and others' work against vaccines is having heartbreaking consequences."

Kennedy and Hines almost separated over his controversial remark

Cheryl Hines knew the Kennedy family history of tragedy and controversy when she married into it in 2014 — and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is no exception. A 2015 biography spilled the tea on Kennedy's drug use, his (very) active sex life, his three marriages, and his infidelities. According to the Daily Mail, Kennedy proposed to his second wife before he had even divorced his first. Reportedly, he also cheated on Hines weeks before their wedding; she apparently found out about it but went ahead with the marriage regardless.

Kennedy's Holocaust comparison, however, was what nearly drove the couple apart — at least, on paper. In a June 2023 interview with The New York Times, the controversial politician revealed he'd considered releasing a statement saying they had separated to keep the press off Hines' back. "We wouldn't really be doing anything ... I felt so desperate about protecting her at a time where my statements and my decisions were impacting her," Kennedy explained. Hines refused his offer, but she understands that being a potential first lady "feels different, because it feels like every word is important."

Perhaps with that in mind, the actor returned to a neutral stance when asked about her husband's views on vaccines once again. Confirming that she "sees both sides" of the issue, Hines reasoned, "If Bobby is standing up and saying, 'Well, are we sure that they're safe and every vaccine has been tested properly?' That doesn't seem too much to ask."