Written by Ashton Snyder on
 June 21, 2024

RFK Jr. Challenges Debate Qualification Requirements

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an independent candidate in the 2024 presidential race, faces significant obstacles in qualifying for the June 27 debate hosted by CNN.

With the June 26 qualification deadline fast approaching, Kennedy has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging unfair treatment by CNN.

According to the Washington Times, Kennedy, who wishes to join President Joe Biden and Republican candidate Donald Trump on the debate stage, must meet CNN's criteria by midnight Wednesday. The network requires candidates to score 15% in four national polls and secure ballot access in states totaling 270 electoral votes. Kennedy, however, is currently falling short of these requirements.

Kennedy's Complaint Against CNN

On June 22, less than 24 hours before the qualification cut-off, Kennedy filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Kennedy alleges that CNN's debate setup constitutes an illegal campaign contribution to President Biden and Mr. Trump. Furthermore, he claims that the network imposed different criteria for his participation, potentially hindering his eligibility.

In the complaint, Kennedy demanded that the FEC intervene by Thursday to ensure the debate complies with the Federal Election Campaign Act. Kennedy's campaign argues that the debate’s terms provide an unfair advantage to the Democratic and Republican candidates, urging for an adjustment in the criteria.

This situation is in stark contrast to historical precedent. Since 1960, debates have typically been controlled by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, not individual news organizations like CNN and ABC.

Struggling to Meet Qualification Criteria

CNN maintains that it is not impossible for Kennedy to qualify, but concedes that he has not met the necessary criteria yet. Currently, Kennedy has achieved the 15% polling threshold in three qualifying national polls, falling one short of the required four. Additionally, there are discrepancies in his claims regarding ballot access.

Kennedy asserts that he is on the ballot in nine states, which would give him access to 144 electoral votes. However, the Washington Post has reported that he is not listed on the ballot in some states where he claims to have qualified. This discrepancy further complicates his chances of reaching the 270 electoral vote threshold, which is crucial for debate eligibility.

Despite these challenges, Kennedy remains hopeful that his complaint with the FEC will lead to a review and possible amendment of the debate criteria before the upcoming event.

Juneteenth Holiday Stalls Federal Review

The timing of this controversy is further complicated by the Juneteenth holiday, which has stalled many federal operations. This delay could affect the FEC’s ability to respond to Kennedy’s complaint promptly. As a result, Kennedy’s campaign faces an even tighter timeline for action before the debate qualification deadline.

Kennedy's struggle underscores the broader issue of how debate participation is determined and who controls the criteria. The independent candidate’s case raises questions about fairness and accessibility in the democratic process, especially for non-major-party contenders.


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is working hard to participate in the debate scheduled for June 27 despite facing major challenges. He claims that CNN is treating him unfairly and has lodged a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Kennedy is also dealing with issues related to polling discrepancies and ballot access and is seeking changes to the debate conditions. His efforts are further complicated by the Juneteenth holiday, which impacts federal operations. As the deadline draws near, Kennedy's campaign is anxiously waiting for a response from the FEC.

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About Ashton Snyder

Independent conservative news without a leftist agenda.
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