RFK Jr. Misses CNN Debate, Setting Stage for Biden-Trump Face-Off

Kennedy faces major hurdles in his presidential campaign

by Zain ul Abedin
RFK Jr. Misses CNN Debate, Setting Stage for Biden-Trump Face-Off
© Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

CNN has confirmed that Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will not join the face-to-face debate in Atlanta. Kennedy did not qualify for the state ballot and polling, thus leading to a direct showdown between Democratic President Joe Biden alongside presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on 27 June.

Still, it is a major blow to Kennedy’s campaign, which is deprived of the opportunity to confront the leaders and spread its message further. In response, Kennedy condemned the decision as undemocratic, un-American, and cowardly while pointing out the possible consequences of his participation in a closely fought general election.

The campaigns of Biden and Trump have also been relieved by the fact that Kennedy cannot influence the upcoming election anymore. The debate requirements set by CNN demanded contenders to gain a spot on the ballot in states that make up 270 Electoral College votes, which is the number needed to clinch the presidency.

Although Biden and Trump have easily crossed this benchmark, Kennedy’s campaign noted that he would be listed in 22 states with 310 electoral votes. However, not all the states have affirmed his listing; major states like California are preparing to close their ballots by the end of August.

Kennedy's Debate Exclusion

Moreover, Kennedy was expected to garner at least 15% support in four nationwide surveys by June 20, an achievement he barely failed to accomplish; he only managed to achieve this in three of the polls.

Today, Kennedy can get on the ballot in only six states, with 89 electoral votes combined. Adding to this, Kennedy, last month filed an election petition claiming that CNN colluded with the Biden and Trump campaigns to leave him out of the debate.

He asserted that the debate criteria were tailor-made so as to benefit the two main party contenders. CNN has refuted these allegations as being mere. In these controversies, Biden and Trump have agreed to the second debate on September 10 hosted by ABC.

This setup removes the nonpartisan commission that had been in charge of the organization of presidential debates for quite some time. The drawing for podium positions for the first three places led to Biden standing on the right side of the screen for the viewers and Trump on the left side.

These conditions include, among others, reduced microphone authority while not in use, accordant policy and perspective presentation.