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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Deserves To Be On The Presidential Debate Stage

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Democrats don’t get to run as the party of “democracy” while keeping the election’s most prominent third-party candidate off the debate stage. That’s in addition to the cascade of lawfare launched to thwart the campaign of their top challenger this fall.

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump agreed last week to engage in two debates this year, a departure from the traditional three held in the weeks before Election Day. The first will be held June 27 in a forum moderated by CNN. The second will be on Sept. 10 with moderators from ABC. Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Jr. remains absent from the lineup, and not because of Trump.

In an interview with Scripps News last week, the former Republican president said he would have “no problem” with Kennedy joining the debate “if he got whatever the threshold is.” To qualify, candidates must be on the ballot in enough states to capture 270 electoral votes and must hit 15 percent support in four national polls by June 20.

Big media and the Democrats, however, are conspiring to keep Kennedy out. CNN is only counting surveys conducted after March 13. Of those, Kennedy has eclipsed the 15 percent benchmark in only two. If the network included polls released since the start of the new year, however, Kennedy would meet the polling requirement, according to RealClearPolitics’ aggregate of surveys.

The third-party candidate must also prove he has ballot access in enough states to win the election. But NBC reports “that may not even be possible, with some states not even processing submitted petitions until the end of the summer.” Kennedy, however, is projecting confidence that he’ll qualify for the June debate stage, telling Fox News on Sunday “we are in discussions with CNN” to participate.

“We have shown CNN that we meet all of those criteria,” Kennedy said. Have they? Probably not, especially considering that some states will not even process ballot petitions until well after the first debate next month.

But that doesn’t mean Kennedy should be left out of presidential prime time. The criteria are bogus, to begin with. A well-financed candidate consistently polling with the support of more than 1 in 10 Americans for months on end is clearly a major contender worthy of a podium. In fact, an overwhelming majority of voters want to see Kennedy included.

According to a May Harvard/Harris poll out Monday, 71 percent of the more than 1,600 registered voters surveyed said the debates should include a third-party candidate such as Kennedy.

There’s only one campaign built on a strategy of systemically excluding opponents from the electoral process, and it’s not Trump’s. While failing to exclude Trump from the ballot as an “insurrectionist” this spring, Democrat donors are “funding legal efforts to try to keep [Kennedy] off,” NBC News reported in April. Democrats, according to NBC News, are “waging an open war on the likes of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whom they view as mortal threats to President Joe Biden’s re-election.”

If Democrats want to claim the mantle of “democracy,” the party would welcome open competition in the debates and on the ballot.

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