SUPPRESSED: RFK Jr. FAILS to qualify for the first presidential debate to be hosted by CNN
06/25/2024 // Laura Harris // Views

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has failed to qualify for the upcoming first presidential debate of the election cycle to be hosted by mainstream media network CNN.

The 90-minute debate, scheduled for June 27 and to be held at CNN's studio in Atlanta, Georgia, will be hosted by veteran CNN journalists and news anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

The network, from the urging of President Joe Biden's campaign and with the approval of former President Donald Trump's campaign, has also outlined strict protocols for the debate. These include a limit of just two commercial breaks, during which candidates are not allowed to consult with their campaign teams. Candidates must also only have a pen, a notepad and a bottle of water with them at their respective podiums. Props or other prepared notes are prohibited.

Additionally, a coin flip will determine podium positions, while candidates' microphones will be on mute when it is not their turn to speak.

To qualify for the debate, candidates must be constitutionally eligible to hold the presidency, file statements of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission (FEC); must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to at least have the mathematical possibility of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College – at least 270 votes; must agree to the rules of the debate; and must receive at least 15 percent of support from the national electorate as determined by four national public opinion survey organizations selected by CNN.

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It is these last two requirements that have stumped Kennedy. Biden and Trump, as the nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, have easily surpassed the polling requirements and are automatically given ballot access in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

According to CNN, Kennedy, the highest-performing independent candidate for the 2024 elections, only achieved the 15 percent support threshold in three national polls.

Furthermore, as of press time, Kennedy only has ballot access to nine states – California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah – giving him access to just 139 Electoral College votes. The Kennedy campaign also claims access to two other states – Mississippi and Texas – and 46 more electoral votes, which still is not enough to meet the 270 Electoral College votes required.

RFK Jr. files complaint against CNN

Kennedy's campaign hoped to use the debate to gain legitimacy and convince potential supporters of his viability as a candidate. (Related: Trump and RFK Jr. fail to win over Libertarian Party during chaotic convention.)

Kennedy has also openly criticized CNN's debate criteria and the network's decision to not let him appear onstage with Biden and Trump, calling it "undemocratic, un-American and cowardly." He argued that the rules were arbitrarily enforced to exclude him and preserve the one-on-one debate format between the main Republican and Democratic candidates.

Kennedy already filed an election complaint with the FEC back in May over his exclusion from the first presidential debate.

At that time, Kennedy claimed that CNN colluded with Biden and Trump to exclude him in the upcoming debate on June 27. He even argued that CNN violated the Federal Election Campaign Act due to its biased debate criteria.

"The complaint establishes that because CNN is illegally demanding that Kennedy meet different criteria to participate than Presidents Biden and Trump, its debate is a large prohibited campaign contribution to Biden and Trump," a press release about the letter stated.

"In an attempt to select themselves and to exclude others, CNN, President Biden and Mr. Trump set the criteria to require that a candidate’s name appear on enough ballots to garner 270 electoral votes," Kennedy stated in the letter, adding this was specifically to "exclude" him. He further contends that the cost of the debate, funded by CNN, constitutes a "prohibited corporate contribution to the Biden Committee and the Trump Committee."

Furthermore, Kennedy argued that Biden and Trump also do not technically have ballot access in a sufficient number of states to qualify, as neither has been officially nominated at their party conventions, which will take place later this summer.

But in the end, CNN dismissed the complaint as baseless and strongly disagreed that its eligibility criteria ran afoul of the law.

"The law in virtually every state provides that the nominee of a state-recognized political party will be allowed ballot access without petitioning. As the presumptive nominees of their parties both Biden and Trump will satisfy this requirement," a CNN spokesperson said. "As an independent candidate, under applicable laws RFK, Jr. does not. The mere application for ballot access does not guarantee that he will appear on the ballot in any state. In addition, RFK, Jr. does not currently meet our polling criteria, which, like the other objective criteria, were set before issuing invitations to the debate."

Visit for more stories about the independent presidential candidate.

Watch this Fox News report about the three-man race in the November 2024 presidential election.

This video is from the NewsClips channel on

More related stories:

RFK Jr. says he opposes ceasefire in Gaza, supports ‘de-Nazification.

RFK Jr. slams GUILTY verdict on Trump, calls it a blow to democracy and the Democratic Party.

RFK Jr celebrates an infamous Dem gay rights leader Harvey Milk who was accused of grooming minors.

RFK Jr. defends Israel, says there’s no evidence Netanyahu is pursuing genocide as a goal, claims real genocide is being committed against JEWS.

Memo to the right: RFK Jr. would do even more green damage than Joe Biden.

Sources include:

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