With final preparations underway for Trump, Biden debate this week, RFK Jr. blasts both candidates

“They’ve colluded with CNN to rig the debate rules and block my participation so they don’t have to answer tough questions," said Robert Kennedy Jr.

Published: June 23, 2024 10:24pm

(The Center Square) -

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are scheduled for their first presidential debate of this election cycle this week.

Both men are the presumptive nominees of their respective parties and reportedly went through extensive negotiations to settle on the terms of the debate, which is planned for Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jake Tapper and Dana Bash of CNN will host the debate, which is expected to last 90 minutes. There will be no live audience, the first time in decades.

Biden headed to Camp David Friday for nearly a week of debate prep. He could face questions about the rise in inflation during his term and the ongoing border crisis. Trump will likely have to defend his role in the Jan. 6 protests at the U.S. Capitol as well as his legal woes, including his conviction on 34 felony counts in the New York City hush money case.

Possibly the biggest change in the format is that candidates will have their microphones muted when it is not their turn to speak. Previous debates had extended periods of incoherence as both candidates talked over one another.

Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has earned a sizable minority of the electorate, is not being included in the debate. Both campaigns reportedly suspect RFK Jr. could pull voters from their side.

Real Clear Politics’ polling average tracks 5-way polls that include Trump, Biden, Kennedy, Cornel West and Jill Stein. In their polling average, Trump has 41.9% support, Biden has 40.6% support, Kennedy has 7.7% support, West has 1.4% support, and Stein has 1.3% support.

Kennedy released a statement Friday blasting Trump and Biden for excluding him from the debate.

“President Trump and President Biden don’t agree on much, but they do agree on excluding me from the debate stage,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “They’ve colluded with CNN to rig the debate rules and block my participation so they don’t have to answer tough questions about the lockdowns, the $34 trillion national debt, the chronic disease epidemic, or the toxic polarization that drives their campaigns.”

Kennedy, who did not qualify based on CNN’s requirements, called his exclusion part of the “censorship complex.”

“Both former [sic] presidents are making a mockery of democracy, but I’m never going to back down,” he continued.

A second presidential debate hosted by ABC News is expected in September.

In a two-way faceoff, RCP’s polling average has Trump leading Biden by half a percentage point, but leading by an average of 3.4 points in the top battleground states.

According to the group’s aggregate of polls, Trump leads by 4.6 points in Arizona, 5 points in Georgia, Michigan by 0.2 points, Nevada by 5.7 points, North Carolina by 5.3 points, Pennsylvania by 2.3 points, and Wisconsin by 0.3 points.

Trump faces an upcoming court appearance for his recent conviction on 34 federal counts related to his “hush money” payments to Stormy Daniels. He also faces charges in Florida, Georgia, and Washington D.C., though those legal proceedings are expected to continue beyond the November elections.

Trump suggested last week that Biden, who faces ongoing questions about his mental fitness, will take drugs to perform better in the debates. Trump and his allies have long claimed that Biden has been drugged before the debates to boost performance, though Biden’s team denies that claim.

“Is anybody going to watch the debate? [Biden’s] gonna be so pumped up,” Trump told his supporters, poking at the president at a rally in Racine, Wisconsin last week.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. eastern (6 Pacific) Thursday on CNN and CBS.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook


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