RFK Jr. didn’t qualify for the first presidential debate. So where does he stand?

RFK Jr. didn’t qualify for the first presidential debate. So where does he stand?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has arranged his own counterprogramming to the first presidential debate after his low polling numbers kept him off the CNN stage with former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

The longshot independent candidate won’t take part in the Thursday evening debate after failing to reach the required polling thresholds and not being on enough state ballots. Recent fundraising reports also reveal that the campaign is floundering in the money game.

Just a couple hours before Trump and Biden face off on Thursday night, Kennedy is set to appear on Dr. Phil Primetime on Merit Street Media in what the TV personality has called an “uncensored one-on-one interview.”

In a clip shared on X, Kennedy says, “I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I could win.”

He added: “The one group I don’t do well with which is baby boomers, they think I’m genuinely a lunatic.”

Kennedy, an environmental lawyer, also pushed back against the widespread perception that he’s an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist.

“One of the big defamations about me is that I’m anti-vaccine… which is what people have said about me for 20 years. I’ve always said I’m not anti-vaccine. When I try to talk about this, I get gaslit, I get marginalized, I get vilified,” he told McGraw.

In an NPR interview on Tuesday, Kennedy campaign manager and his daughter-in-law Amaryllis Fox Kennedy insisted that there would still be a “three-way-debate.”

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at the Libertarian National Convention on May 24 (Getty Images)
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at the Libertarian National Convention on May 24 (Getty Images)

“I think that the American people want leaders who believe in their ability to make up their own mind, and one way or another, there will be a three-way debate on Thursday,” Amaryllis Fox Kennedy told NPR.

The campaign announced later on Tuesday that Kennedy will “answer the same debate questions” in a livestream on X and ”therealdebate.com.”

“Over 70 percent of Americans want a different choice than Presidents Biden or Trump,” Kennedy said in a video posted on X. “They’re tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.”

“I’m going to be on that debate stage with or without their permission,” he added.

CNN required candidates to reach at least 15 percent in four polls from a number of specified pollsters and appear on enough state ballots to be able to win 270 electoral votes and the White House.

Kennedy didn’t reach either requirement, but the campaign still filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming that a debate without the independent candidate would be unlawful.

CNN has stated that Kennedy reached 15 percent in three qualifying polls — but his average support is far below that . In FiveThirtyEight’s polling average, he stands at just 9.4 percent.

His campaign states on its site that he was officially on the ballot in 10 states by the June 20 deadline for a total of 174 electoral votes, far below what’s required.

“The campaign had submitted sufficient signatures (usually double the required number, but sometimes triple) in 13 other states that total 136 more electoral votes,” they claimed.

The Kennedy campaign has raised more than $46 million, which includes $10 million from running mate Nicole Shanahan, and it has spent more than $40 million, according to NPR.

Earlier this month, Shanahan garnered attention for her curious answer to the question of what would make her a good president.

“I think that I have a very sophisticated view on foreign affairs due to my previous work in intellectual property law,” she told Fox 11. “I understand how global commerce works. I understand how we build batteries around the world.”

She added: “I understand the importance of semiconductors. I understand that big foreign policy decisions are made specifically around semiconductors, and I also am multicultural.

“My background is one in which I’ve spent most of my spiritual life studying world religions, and I think it’s really important right now for us to understand and respect each other’s religious alignment and understand the depths and the nuances of it.”

Appearing on Piers Morgan Uncensored on Tuesday, Kennedy slammed CNN and called Trump the “greatest debater in modern American history.”

He claimed that neither of the debate moderators, Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, would ask “tough questions” because they supported the pandemic policies of both Trump and Biden.

“On some of the biggest, most monumental decisions during their presidency, like the lockdown of the American public, the CNN announcers were cheerleaders for those lockdowns,” he claimed.

“That shifted $4.3 trillian in wealth to this new oligarchy of billionaires, that destroyed the middle class in this country, that shut down 3.3 million businesses with no due process — our churches made us wear masks,” he added.

“I would predict that Trump will win because … he could win a prize for the greatest debater in modern American history, probably since Lincoln-Douglas,” the independent candidate said in reference to the debates between President Abraham Lincoln and Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas.

Kennedy went on to say that Trump is “extremely entertaining to watch. He has an ability to make up facts and then believe them absolutely — and to sell them to the crowd.”

“I don’t think it’s possible for President Biden to beat him in that debate,” he said.