Joe Biden’s Plan to Deny Robert F. Kennedy Jr. A Fair Debate

Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s Plan to Deny Robert F. Kennedy Jr. A Fair Debate

Donald Trump would rather accept the Democratic Party’s strict rules now than debate on an even footing later against independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Former President Donald Trump accepted an offer from President Joe Biden to debate on Wednesday morning, seemingly ignoring the strict conditions set out by the Democrats for how the debate should be run. In what felt like a pre-match threat from a WWE wrestler, President Biden asked Trump to “make his day” in his toughest sounding voice, announcing to the country that he would be willing to debate him as soon as next month, so long as independent and third-party candidates were excluded.

That wasn’t the only condition, either. The first debate, Biden’s campaign said, would be scheduled for June 27 on Democrat-friendly news network CNN. The second, scheduled for September 10, would be hosted by ABC and take place right before early voting begins. Under Biden’s proposed conditions, microphones would be cut off when the other candidate is speaking. The Biden campaign also put forward a list of moderators that, under normal conditions, former President Trump would consider too biased to fairly mediate the discussion.

Is Donald Trump Afraid of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.? 

Why, then, is the frontrunner in this race accepting all of the Biden campaign’s conditions, when he could instead opt to take part in the official debates that are normally organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates? 

The answer is simple; Trump would rather accept the Democratic Party’s strict rules now than debate on an even footing later against independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

In recent months, polling has proven Kennedy to be a formidable force in this election. As of May 15, Kennedy qualifies to appear on more than a dozen state’s ballots, with 187 total eligible electoral votes. To qualify for the official debates, Team Kennedy needs to gain access to the ballot in all states and consistently garner more than 15% in the polls. Mainstream polling data already shows his independent campaign consistently attracting more than 10% in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, making it clear to both Team Trump and Team Biden that a three-way debate is perfectly likely later in the year.

Presidential candidates do not duck out of official debates under normal circumstances. Bush, Clinton, and Perot debated in 1992. 2024 should, in theory, be no different; if Kennedy qualifies, then he qualifies. But these are not normal circumstances, and both President Biden and Trump know that they have a million excuses to back out if they want to.

What’s perhaps most surprising about today’s revelation is that either candidate is willing to debate at all.

We know that Trump likes to avoid debates if he can. He didn’t entertain a single one during the recent Republican primaries, after all. We also know, courtesy of a John Zogby 50-state poll, that President Joe Biden is the spoiler in this election. According to the data obtained from more than 26,000 likely voters across the country, President Biden cannot win in 2024, and in a two-way race against Trump, only Kennedy can beat him. That’s a hard truth that Biden has so far ignored, and one that he would be forced to address in a three-way debate against Kennedy.

Luckily for Team Biden, though, today’s news means that the two planned official debates – for which Kennedy may ultimately qualify – almost certainly won’t be going ahead.

With two unofficial debates now planned under the Democratic Party’s preferred rules, to which Trump has, remarkably, agreed, we can almost guarantee that Kennedy will not appear on the debate stage at all this year. Neither President Biden nor Trump will be forced to answer for their respective failures over the last eight years, because neither will agree to participate. 

When the Commission on Presidential Debates asks, both Trump and Biden may simply tell the nation, "we’ve already debated and we owe you no more."

About the Author: Jack Buckby  

Jack Buckby is the author of The Truth Teller: RFK Jr. and the Case for a Post-Partisan Presidency.