CNN: RFK Jr. Hasn't Qualified for Debate

Independent candidate ran out of time to qualify; only Biden, Trump will take the stage
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2024 4:42 PM CDT
Updated Jun 20, 2024 9:13 AM CDT
RFK Jr. Unlikely to Qualify for CNN Debate
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during the Libertarian National Convention last month.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
UPDATE Jun 20, 2024 9:13 AM CDT

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will not be taking part in next week's debate, CNN confirmed after the candidate missed the deadline to qualify. The network said "the debate qualification window closed at 12:00:01am" on Thursday, and President Biden and Donald Trump were the only candidates to qualify. To become the first independent or third-party candidate to take part in a national debate since Ross Perot in 1992, Kennedy would have had to reach 15% in four national polls, but he only reached that threshold in three, the New York Times reports. He also failed to officially qualify to be on the ballot in enough states to win the presidency.

Jun 19, 2024 4:42 PM CDT

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is running out of time to qualify for next week's CNN-hosted presidential debate. Reuters reports that the independent presidential candidate has not hit the threshold of 15% support in four separate national polls and qualifying for the ballot in enough states to potentially win the presidency. The deadline to qualify is midnight Wednesday, and Kennedy is unlikely to reach the targets before then, especially since federal offices are closed for the Juneteenth holiday, USA Today reports.

CNN says Kennedy has hit 15% in only three polls and is on the ballot in just six states, reports Reuters, though his campaign says he is on the ballot and has received enough signatures to qualify in 14 more. Kennedy has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming that the campaigns of President Biden and Donald Trump colluded to keep him out of the June 27 debate.

story continues below

A source connected to the Biden campaign tells the Hill that Kennedy is "not making the stage" and that it will be a heavy blow to his longshot campaign. "Tanking poll numbers, cash flow, ballot access challenges—he's going to have a hard time making a case for electability with all of this combined as people are finally tuning in," the source says. Democratic strategist Michael Ceraso, however, says exclusion could be a boost for Kennedy "if his supporters believe he was denied entry to the debate due to unfair rules or the system working against him." (More Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.