RFK Jr. Is Running Out of Time to Join Biden and Trump on the CNN Debate Stage

RFK Jr. Is Running Out of Time to Join Biden and Trump on the CNN Debate Stage

The clock is ticking for the independent candidate Robert F. kennedy jr To qualify for the US presidential debate scheduled for next week, hosted by CNN. His campaign must prove no later than 11:59 p.m. Wednesday that Robert Kennedy Jr. has received enough statewide ballots and meets a specific ballot threshold to participate, but that doesn't seem likely.

The Atlanta-based cable network requires that participating candidates be legally able to run for president — in accordance with Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution — as well as file a formal statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. president Joe Biden And the former president Donald Trump They both cross these barriers, and so do the candidates Cornel West, Jill Steinand RFK Jr.

The network also requires that debaters appear on enough state ballots to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency and obtain at least 15% in four separate certified national polls of registered or likely voters.

Since early June, RFK Jr. has claimed to be on the ballot in enough states to take the stage. But the numbers don't add up.

For months, RFK Jr. has been strategically navigating how to get on ballots across the country, and each state has specific election laws regarding independent candidates. Typically, those trying to get into the mix have two options: get enough signatures to petition to get on the ballot or be nominated by an established political party in the state. Kennedy was trying both.

According to what I reported Washington Post“A poll of state election officials found that Kennedy is not on the ballot in many of the states where he claimed to be — and will not reach the requirement by Thursday's deadline.”

Election officials in Utah, Delaware, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee confirmed Kennedy's place on the ballot, and CNN counted California and Hawaii, where Kennedy is poised to be the minor-party nominee. In total, this means 100 electoral votes. He also has not yet met the ballot requirements.

A map tracking ballot efforts on the Kennedy campaign's website highlights 23 states as “petition completed” and claims the independent candidate is eligible to receive 310 electoral votes. The message “We're on the ballot” appears when you click on the highlighted state. However, as a spokeswoman for the New York Board of Elections Kathleen McGrath L said mail“Petition completed” is accurate, and the statement below, “We are on the ballot” is premature.”

RFK Jr. campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Spear L said mail that even questioning Kennedy's failure to meet the requirement of 270 electoral votes was “irrational.”

The debate, which will be held on June 27 at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, is the first time in a long time that the presumptive 2024 presidential nominees, Biden and Trump, will address each other in the same room. Kennedy — who claimed his brain was eaten by a worm that crawled inside him and died, and later said he could eat five more brain worms and “still beat President Trump and President Biden in a debate” — would really like to be there.

While Biden and Trump must also meet CNN's polling and electoral voting requirements, it's a little different for them. A CNN spokesperson explained that most states, as the presumptive nominees for both parties, will automatically allow them access to the ballot box without having to petition.

In May, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging that CNN, Biden and Trump colluded and engaged in “flagrant violations” of the law to keep Kennedy off the stage.

The campaign called on the FCC to take action before Thursday's deadline, according to a June 18 press release, and claimed that “CNN, and every CNN member involved in planning, executing and convening this debate, are at risk.” Prosecution. “This risk is now acute given that any further violation would be knowing and willful and therefore could result in serious imprisonment,” the statement continues.

“The bottom line is that he is more eligible for electoral votes than Presidents Trump and Biden,” Speier wrote in an email to the White House. mail.

For the candidates taking the stage next week, CNN has implemented some other rules as well.

The 90-minute debate, hosted by CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, will have muted microphones and no studio audience, part of the moderator's effort to “use all the tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civil discussion.” “, according to the network. There will be no opening statement, and no pre-written remarks will be allowed. Each candidate will be given a pen, notepad and water bottle at their own podium, chosen by flipping a coin.

While CNN said on Saturday that it was “not impossible” for Kennedy to adhere to the guidelines, time is running out. For RFK Jr., this is personal.

He posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “Presidents Trump and Biden are colluding to keep America in a face-to-face confrontation.” “They are trying to exclude me from their debate because they are afraid I will win.”


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