Trump Says in New Interview He's Willing to Include RFK Jr. in First Presidential Debate

AP Photo/Meg Kinnard

Former President Donald Trump indicated a willingness to include independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the two scheduled presidential debates with President Joe Biden, during an exclusive interview with the Scripps News Service on Thursday:


In an exclusive interview with Scripps News on Thursday, former President Donald Trump said he would have “no problem” sharing the debate stage with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. if the independent presidential candidate met the polling threshold.

The comments to Scripps News political correspondent Charles Benson come one day after the Trump and Biden campaigns agreed to two one-on-one debates. The first will be hosted by CNN on June 27 and the second by ABC News on Sept. 10.

Trump said to Benson that he would be open to the idea of a three-way debate in the first (June) match-up, if Mr. Kennedy met the hosting network CNN's criteria.

“I would have no problem if he got whatever the threshold is,” Trump told Benson. “But he’s very low and seems to be heading in the other direction, in the wrong direction.”

CNN announced that candidates must receive at least 15% support in four polls and appear on enough state ballots to reach 270 Electoral College votes — the number needed to win the White House.

Kennedy’s campaign says it is officially on the ballot in six states and has enough signatures to qualify for eight more.

President Biden's campaign has released an awkwardly edited, cut-heavy, 14-second ad, showing the President vocally expressing confidence in the debate outcomes.


The debates look like they will be tightly controlled; no audience, and the candidates' microphones will be shut off when the candidates aren't speaking. The network and the expected moderators, CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, are hardly unbiased where Trump is concerned. But the microphone shut off may actually work to Trump's benefit, as in the 2020 debates, it was likely off-putting to some that the President talked over and frequently interrupted his opponent. The lack of an audience, with the concomitant distractions and feedback, could give Biden at least less of a handicap, and Trump is known for his ability to work an audience and to take feedback from them.

See Related: Prospective Debates Just Got More Complicated As RFK Jr. Now Says He Would Qualify for CNN 

Biden Gives Snippy Response to Question About Debate, Staff Shoves Media Out, Debate Moderators Announced


Having a third candidate present at the debate could also hand an advantage to the former President. Robert F. Kennedy more likely to come across as an alternative to Biden (he does, after all, have the advantage of not being senile) than to Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, Fox News' White House correspondent Peter Doocy pressed White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on why the Biden campaign suddenly agreed to debates with Trump; the Press Secretary did not directly answer the question.

The Biden campaign has accepted an offer from CBS to host the vice presidential debate. Former President Trump is expected to announce his vice presidential pick at the Republican National Convention in July.


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