Robert F. Kennedy fails to qualify for debate with Biden, Trump

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at the Libertarian National Convention on May 24, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the third-party candidate running for president, does not qualify for next week’s presidential debate hosted by CNN, the network said Thursday.

According to CNN, candidates can only participate in the debate if they have secured a place on the ballot in states totaling at least 270 votes in the Electoral College, the minimum needed to win the presidency. Kennedy’s campaign says he has satisfied the requirements to appear on the ballot in 22 states, though not all have confirmed his name will be listed. California, for example, won’t certify any candidates until Aug. 29.

Candidates were also required to reach a polling threshold of 15% in four reliable national polls by June 20. CNN says Kennedy has only received at least 15% in three qualifying polls so far and is currently on the ballot in six states.

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Biden and Trump will be the only two candidates on stage in Atlanta for the June 27 showdown, though both fear that Kennedy’s third-party run could be a spoiler in what’s expected to be another painstakingly close election.

The 90-minute debate will be hosted by CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. It will be the first in-person face off between Biden and Trump since they stood alongside one another on debate stages during the 2020 cycle. There won't be a studio audience. 

CNN said there will be two commercial breaks during the debate, and candidates will not be allowed to consult with other members of their campaign during that time.

The network also noted that candidates' podiums and positions will be determined by a coin flip, their mics will be muted outside of speaking time, and they will only be provided with a pen, a notepad and a bottle of water.

Candidates will not be allowed to bring props or prepared notes.

Kennedy has filed an election complaint accusing CNN of conspiring with Biden and Trump to exclude Kennedy from the debate. CNN denies the accusations.

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It’s unclear whether Kennedy will take any further action regarding the debate.

The second debate between Biden and Trump is set for Sept. 10. That debate will be hosted by ABC.

The Associated Press and Fox News Digital contributed to this report.