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RFK Jr. excluded from upcoming debate; Biden, Trump only candidates invited

Candidates were required to meet a 12:01 a.m. Thursday deadline to reach certain thresholds.
Robert Kennedy, Jr. speaks.
Posted at 7:41 AM, Jun 20, 2024

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will not be invited to next week's presidential debate hosted by CNN, the network announced early Thursday.

The network said that only President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump met the criteria for the debate. The network stipulated that a candidate must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency and receive at least 15% in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters.

CNN previously said that Kennedy had reached 15% in three recognized polls, but came well short of being confirmed on enough state ballots.

Kennedy's campaign, however, contends that Biden and Trump have not yet been nominated by their parties and "their names are not certified to appear on a single state ballot." He alleges that CNN is not following its own criteria by inviting Biden and Trump before they officially become their party's nominees.

"CNN’s published debate criteria require that 'a candidate's name must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold.' CNN is holding Kennedy to this requirement but is not requiring Presidents Biden and Trump to meet this requirement by claiming they are the 'presumptive nominee' of a political party," Kennedy's campaign wrote.

A third-party candidate has not been invited to debate the Republican and Democratic nominees since Ross Perot in 1992.

The debate is scheduled for 9 p.m. on June 27.

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