Despite His Claims, RFK Jr. Hasn't Qualified For CNN Debate: Report

Despite claims from independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that he has qualified for enough state ballots to participate in next week’s presidential debate on CNN, a Washington Post survey of state election officials found Tuesday that that’s not the case.

So far, only Delaware, Michigan, Oklahoma and Utah election officials have said Kennedy will appear on their ballots, and he is likely to appear on the California and Hawaii ballots, the survey found. Those states total 100 electoral votes, falling far short of CNN’s required 270 ― the number a candidate needs to win the election.

Kennedy’s campaign has spent months gathering the minimum number of signatures that states require to get an independent candidate on the ballot, but many election officials told the Post that they would still need several more weeks to certify those petitions.

He also hasn’t met CNN’s requirement of earning 15% support in four national polls, though it’s theoretically possible that could change before Thursday’s deadline to meet the debate requirements.

Last month, Kennedy filed an election complaint alleging that CNN is colluding with President Joe Biden and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump to exclude him from the debate. A CNN spokesperson pushed back, saying, “The mere application for ballot access does not guarantee that he will appear on the ballot in any state.”

A spokesperson for Kennedy’s campaigndisputed the Post’s findings.

“The bottom line is he is eligible for more electoral votes than both Presidents Trump and Biden since they have not yet been nominated by their parties,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Candidates from major parties do not need to petition for ballot access like independents do. But Kennedy’s campaign still takes issue, citing language from the Federal Election Commission.

“The FEC has made clear that the phrase ‘presumptive nominee’ is ‘not in the FEC’s debate regulation,’” the campaign spokesperson said. “Failure to use objective criteria renders the debate a campaign contribution, subject to strict donation limits, therefore CNN is violating federal law.”

Kennedy, a potential spoiler candidate for Biden or Trump, is best known for promoting anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, including the false claims that vaccines can cause autism. He has gone so far as to compare vaccination programs to the Holocaust. He’s also come under fire for his inconsistent stance on abortion, one of the biggest issues of the 2024 election.