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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Robert Tait in Washington

Robert F Kennedy Jr fails to meet requirements to take part in CNN debate

Robert F. Kennedy Jr in Washington DC on 24 May.
Robert F Kennedy Jr in Washington DC on 24 May. Photograph: José Luis Magaña/AP

Robert F Kennedy Jr, who is running as an independent presidential candidate, will not be included in CNN’s debate next week after failing to meet the network’s criteria.

A Wednesday midnight deadline passed without Kennedy being able to demonstrate that he had met the conditions necessary to share the debate platform with Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

CNN has stipulated that participants need to have secured ballot access in enough states to capture the 270 electoral college votes necessary to win the presidency, while recording 15% support in at least four national polls.

Kennedy, an environmental lawyer who has gained a reputation for engaging in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, has been confirmed on the ballot in only five states – Utah, Delaware, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee – according to the Washington Post.

Additionally, CNN credited him with being on the ballot in California and Hawaii, where he is the presumptive nominee for several smaller parties where the states have yet to certify him. In total, the states account for 100 electoral votes.

As of Wednesday, Kennedy had reached the 15% polling threshold in just three national surveys.

Kennedy’s campaign has threatened to sue CNN if it does not include him in the 27 June debate. The campaign has claimed that he is on the ballot for nine states and has collected enough signatures to be given ballot access in 14 more.

Kennedy has also filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission arguing that his exclusion is unfair.

Analysts have speculated that his competing as a third-party candidate could have a potentially significant effect on the outcome of November’s election, with polls showing Biden and Trump running neck-and-neck, both nationally and in several battleground states.

However, it is unclear which of the two main candidates’ prospects are more harmed by his presence. He initially attempted to run as a Democrat before withdrawing to stand independently.

While his public profile from sharing the name of America’s most illustrious political families could attract many Democrats, his anti-Covid vaccine views have appeared popular among right-leaning voters who would normally favour Trump.

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