Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Nears CNN's Debate Threshold with 16% Support

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is expected to meet the qualifications set by CNN for the June 27 presidential debate, but it remains uncertain if President Joe Biden will participate. The presumptive Democrat and Republican nominees, President Biden and President Donald Trump, have agreed to take the stage on CNN. The current and former presidents will also meet for a Sept. 10 debate televised by ABC.

According to CNN's qualification rules, a candidate's name must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency by the June 20 debate eligibility deadline. To date, the Kennedy campaign has met signature requirements for ballot access in 14 states, representing 187 electoral votes. Candidates must also get at least 15% in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters that meet CNN's standards for reporting.

According to an aggregate of surveys maintained by Real Clear Politics, Mr. Kennedy is one poll short of CNN's requirements. He earned 16% of the vote in surveys conducted last month by CNN and Quinnipiac University. Kennedy expressed his happiness to meet the criteria to participate in the CNN debate before the June 20 deadline and looks forward to holding Presidents Biden and Trump accountable for their records in Atlanta on June 27.

A CNN spokesperson stated that only President Biden and President Trump have qualified for its debate. The non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates has overseen all presidential forums since 1988. Initially, campaign officials for President Biden and former President Donald Trump expressed dismay about the possibility that the independent challenger could join their candidates on stage. In a May 15 letter to the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, President Biden's campaign said the president would not participate in the commission's planned fall debates, citing the preference for earlier dates.

Kennedy announced his candidacy to challenge President Biden for the Democrat Party nomination in April 2023, but after encountering multiple roadblocks from the Democratic National Committee and claiming that the organization was "rigging the primary" to favor Biden and prevent other candidates from competing, he chose to run as an independent in October 2023.


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