RFK Jr Challenges Trump to Debate; Calls Out 'Fake Polls'

Created: 07 May, 2024
3 min read

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr


Independent presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy extended a challenge Tuesday to former President Donald Trump to debate him at the Libertarian National Convention at the end of May.

“You yourself have said you’re not afraid to debate me as long as my poll numbers are decent. Well, they are," he wrote in an open letter to Trump published on the social media platform X.

The polling data Kennedy cites is from a 50-state Zogby poll his campaign commissioned because he believes Trump has correctly said many national polls are "DNC aligned" and are "fake polls."

"I’m happy to show you the deceptive methodologies used by DNC-allied pollsters who pretend that I’m in single digits," he wrote.

His campaign published the results of the Zogby poll last week when he called on Biden to sign a "no spoiler pledge." They show Trump winning a 3-man contest, but if Kennedy went head-to-head against Trump or Biden, he'd win. 

"I’m the only presidential candidate in history who has polled ahead of both major party candidates in head-to-head races," said Kennedy. "So let’s meet in a couple of weeks and show the American public that at least two of the major candidates aren’t afraid to debate each other."

The focus on polling has to do with a rule put in place by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates. Presidential candidates have to poll at 15% or higher in 5 national polls handpicked by the debate commission to be in the debates.

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It has made it all but impossible for third party and independent candidates to appear on the debate stage. Along with pollsters ignoring or burying candidates outside the major parties, these candidates often lack the resources to build their name ID.

The cost alone creates an insurmountable barrier for many since these candidates are not given free media time like the major party nominees. And, they end up spending all their money just to get on the ballot.

LEARN MORE: Everything You Need to Know About the Commission on Presidential Debates

Even if one puts aside Kennedy's accusations of DNC bias in the polls, there is a clear bias against independent and third party candidates. They are not included in polls or are buried so deep that it skews the results in favor of the major party candidates.

Top pollsters have even admitted on the record that they make the conscious choice to not include candidates outside the major parties. With this in mind, any polling criteria for debate entry is unfair and rigged for the Republican and Democratic nominees. 

If there is one independent candidate in modern presidential elections who could get past the 15% threshold for debate inclusion it is Kennedy because he has both name ID and money. It makes it difficult not to talk about him. 

Kennedy referenced two recent polls from CNN and Quinnipiac that show him above 15% and CNN reports that Kennedy's national average in 5 national polls when his name is included is 13%. 

"Another (Activote) has me at 26% among young voters. And you and I are tied among America’s 70 million Independents," he wrote to Trump.

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Kennedy also took a swipe at the former president by saying he has garnered "a lot of support" from former Trump supporters who are upset at Trump's handling of the deficit, COVID-19, and the "swamp creatures" that filled his administration.

Trump and Kennedy are both scheduled to speak at the 2024 Libertarian National Convention on May 24 and 25. Kennedy says it is "perfect neutral territory for you and me to have a debate where you can defend your record for your wavering supporters."

According to Kennedy, the convention organizers have already issued the green light if Trump accepts his challenge.

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