- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2024

Former President Donald Trump said he would have no problem having independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on the debate stage with him and President Biden if he met the qualification threshold.

“I have no problem with him. I think he’s really not doing well in the polls at all. His numbers have gone down a lot lately, but I would have no problem if he got whatever the threshold is,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with Scripps News on Thursday. “But he’s very low and seems to be heading in the other direction, in the wrong direction.”

After Mr. Biden said Wednesday he is willing to debate Mr. Trump, the ball got rolling quickly and the two campaigns agreed to a June 27 debate hosted by CNN and a Sept. 10 debate hosted by ABC.

Mr. Kennedy took to social media to say the two candidates were “colluding” to keep him out of the presidential race.

“Presidents Trump and Biden are colluding to lock America into a head-to-head match-up that 70% say they do not want,” he said in an X post. “They are trying to exclude me from their debate because they are afraid I would win. Keeping viable candidates off the debate stage undermines democracy.

“By excluding me from the stage, Presidents Biden and Trump seek to avoid discussion of their eight years of mutual failure including deficits, wars, lockdowns, chronic disease, and inflation,” he said.

CNN outlined the qualifications for its debate in Atlanta, which includes a candidate’s name appearing on enough ballots to reach 270 electoral votes to win the presidency, accepting the rules and format of the debate and receiving at least 15% in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters that meets CNN’s standards.

Mr. Trump accused Mr. Biden of not wanting Mr. Kennedy in the debates in an X post Thursday morning because “Junior is far left [of] him and they would be debating over the same territory.”

He said Mr. Kennedy is “sharper and far more intelligent” than the president.

Mr. Kennedy, a Democrat-turned-independent, has been trying to get on the presidential ballot in all 50 states. His campaign has said it is officially on the ballot in California, Delaware, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah and has collected enough signatures in Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio.

In Real Clear Politics’ five-way match-up averages of polls between Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump, and independent candidates Mr. Kennedy, Cornel West and Green Party’s Jill Stein, Mr. Kennedy is the only third-party candidate seeing support in the double digits, but not enough support to get to 15%.

The Washington Times has reached out to the Biden campaign for comment.

• Mallory Wilson can be reached at mwilson@washingtontimes.com.

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