RFK Jr. Barred from CNN Debate Stage, Files Complaint


Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that CNN, along with President Joe Biden's and former President Donald Trump's campaigns, colluded to exclude him from the upcoming presidential debate on June 27. Kennedy's campaign argues that the criteria set by CNN violate federal election laws, claiming the network is providing an unfair advantage to the major party candidates, thus constituting a prohibited corporate contribution​​.

CNN's debate rules require participants to have at least 15% support in four national polls and to be on the ballot in enough states to potentially secure 270 electoral votes. Kennedy, who recently declared his candidacy as an independent, has struggled to meet these thresholds. His campaign asserts that Biden and Trump have also not yet secured ballot access in a sufficient number of states, as formal nominations from their respective parties will only occur later this summer​​.

Kennedy's complaint highlights concerns about fairness and transparency in the debate process. He contends that the established criteria were specifically designed to exclude him from participating, thus depriving voters of a broader range of viewpoints.

The complaint emphasizes that as an independent candidate, he faces different and more stringent requirements compared to the presumptive nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties​.

The Biden and Trump campaigns have not formally responded to Kennedy's allegations. However, a spokesperson for former President Trump dismissed the notion that his campaign would benefit from Kennedy's exclusion, arguing that Kennedy's policy positions are more aligned with those of President Biden. Trump's team also accused Biden of attempting to manipulate the debate landscape to avoid facing Kennedy on stage​​.

CNN has defended its criteria, stating that they are consistent with previous debates and were established to ensure that participating candidates have demonstrated significant national support. The network denies any wrongdoing, asserting that their rules are designed to maintain a level playing field​.

The first debate, scheduled for June 27 in Atlanta, will be moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. This event marks a crucial moment in the 2024 presidential race, offering the first head-to-head confrontation between Biden and Trump. Despite his exclusion, Kennedy continues to campaign vigorously, seeking to secure enough support and ballot access to influence the election​​.

As the debate approaches, Kennedy's efforts to challenge the criteria and gain a spot on the stage highlight the ongoing tensions between independent and major party candidates in American politics. The outcome of his complaint to the FEC remains to be seen, but it underscores the significant hurdles that third-party candidates face in the electoral process​.


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