RFK Jr. Fails to Meet CNN Debate Criteria


Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is unlikely to make the debate stage next week alongside former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden in Atlanta, Georgia, according to reports. The candidate must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the White House, a requirement CNN announced in May.

Kennedy’s campaign has spent months gathering the necessary signatures for independent candidates to appear on state ballots in November. However, election officials have informed the Post that they will not certify petitions or approve minor party nominees for several weeks, making it impossible for Kennedy to meet the requirement in time for the debate.

The Kennedy campaign’s online ballot access tracker indicates that it has completed petitioning in over two dozen states, making him eligible for 310 electoral votes if all states’ petitions were officially certified. However, the Washington Post‘s analysis shows that Kennedy has been certified for the ballot in only five states so far.

When clicking on a state categorized as “petitioning complete” on the campaign’s website, users are directed to the phrase “We’re on the ballot.” The New York Board of Elections has clarified that this classification is premature and certification will take place in the late summer.

CNN has indicated that Trump and Biden, as their parties’ presumptive nominees, meet the ballot access requirement. Trump has publicly stated that he would welcome Kennedy to the debate stage with him. To qualify, candidates must also score 15 percent in at least four polls recognized by the network.

Nick Gilbertson
Nick Gilbertson
Journalist who focuses on national politics in the United States.

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