RFK Jr rails over Trump-Biden debate saying he is being ‘excluded’ because they are ‘afraid’

‘Keeping viable candidates off the debate stage undermines democracy,’ Mr Kennedy said

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 15 May 2024 18:15 BST
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Trump dismisses RFK Jr as ‘not a serious candidate’ when asked if he would debate him

Independent presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr is complaining that Joe Biden and Donald Trump are excluding him from their upcoming debates saying they are scared of him.

“Presidents Trump and Biden are colluding to lock America into a head-to-head match-up that 70 percent say they do not want,” he wrote. “They are trying to exclude me from their debate because they are afraid I would win. Keeping viable candidates off the debate stage undermines democracy.”

Trump and Biden exchanged barbs on Wednesday over the debate, agreeing to one on June 27 set to air on CNN and a second in September. However, RFK Jr, who has seen his polling grow, was not invited to the stage.

Mr Kennedy railed against his opponents, pointing out that 43 percent of Americans identify as independent voters, insisting if the US is "ever going to escape the hammerlock of the two-party system, now is the time to do it".

"These are the two most unpopular candidates in living memory," he said.

RFK Jr, pictured at a campaign event on 1 May, complained that Joe Biden and Donald Trump were ‘colluding’ to keep him out of this year’s presidential debates
RFK Jr, pictured at a campaign event on 1 May, complained that Joe Biden and Donald Trump were ‘colluding’ to keep him out of this year’s presidential debates (AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Kennedy said Mr Trump and Mr Biden wanted to keep him off the stage because they know he would highlight their "failures."

"By excluding me from the stage, Presidents Biden and Trump seek to avoid discussion of their eight years of mutual failure including deficits, wars, lockdowns, chronic disease, and inflation," he wrote.

In order to participate in the CNN debate, a candidate must meet all five of the broadcaster's qualifying standards.

The candidate must be constitutionally eligible to serve as president, must file a statement of constituency with the FEC, must have their name on enough state ballots to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to actually win the election, must agree to the debate's rules and format, and must have earned at least 15 percent in four national polls of registered or likely voters that meets CNN's standards.

While Mr Kennedy is correct that more than 43 percent of Americans identify as independents, that does not mean that all of those independents support him.

It is his overall lack of support that will ultimately keep him our of the CNN debate. Mr Kennedy has failed to reach two of the criteria needed to participate in the event. He has not received at least 15 percent in four national polls, and he has not appeared on enough state ballots to show he can actually win the presidency.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, right, answers a question as President Donald Trump listens during the second and final presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2020
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, right, answers a question as President Donald Trump listens during the second and final presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2020 (AP)

In a recent New York Times/Philadelphia Inquirer/Seneca College poll, Mr Kennedy has shown he is the strongest third-party candidate in decades, but he is still only pulling approximately 10 percent of registered voters in battleground states.

Approximately half of the Kennedy-voting respondents in the poll said they were voting for Mr Kennedy because they supported him, while the other half said they were voting against Mr Biden and Mr Trump.

“I would support him as kind of like a protest vote,”Benjamin Sandoval, a 21-year-old University of Michigan student who is originally from Ecuador said. He described Mr Biden as “weak” and Mr Trump as a “bad man.”

Mr Kennedy's vice presidential pick, Nicole Shanahan, insisted in a post on X/Twitter that, should he get to debate Mr Biden and Mr Trump, he would emerge the victor.

“When @RobertKennedyJr debates these two troubled Presidents, he will win bigly,” she wrote.

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