Upcoming Presidential Debate Gets Major Update As RFK Jr. Seeks To Qualify


Independent Presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr. is not on pace to qualify for next week’s presidential debate with former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden in Atlanta, Georgia.

Kennedy — who initially ran as a Democrat before launching an independent bid last year — will reportedly fall short of CNN’s ballot access requirements to qualify for the debate by Thursday, the Washington Post reported.

When the debate was agreed to last month, CNN noted that candidates must “appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold” necessary to win the presidency in order to qualify for the June 27 debate. The Washington Post reported that Kennedy is currently eligible for 100 electoral votes based on the states he has currently gained ballot access in.

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“His campaign has spent months gathering the signatures that states require for independent candidates — those not affiliated with a political party — to appear on the ballot in November. Those signatures are then verified by state election officials before the candidate is certified to appear,” the Washington Post reported. “Kennedy can also appear on states’ ballots if he’s nominated by a minor political party that has already petitioned for ballot access. But many election officials told The Post they won’t certify those petitions or green-light minor party nominees for several weeks, making it impossible for Kennedy to check off the requirement in time for the debate.”

According to the Kennedy campaign’s ballot access tracker, the independent candidate has  completed petitioning in roughly two dozen states, putting him in line for a maximum of 300 electoral votes if all petitions are certified.

This is up from 14 states when CNN announced the debate threshold on May 16. Despite the Kennedy Campaign’s internal reporting, the Washington Post found that the former Democrat is only certified in five states as of this report.

In one example, New York Board of Elections Spokeswoman Kathleen McGrath told the outlet that Kennedy’s claims of certification in the state were “premature,” adding that he is not expected to gain ballot access until later this summer.

CNN reported that both Biden and Trump are considered the nominee of these respective parties and therefore, meet ballot requirements.

President Biden agreed to the early debate with Trump after both the Trump campaign and CNN agreed to a number of demands. This includes a provision that Trump’s microphone will be muted if he talks outside his allotted time, lack of a crowd, and more.

Trump has previously stated that he would welcome Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to the debate stage.

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