Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeU.SRobert F. Kennedy Jr. Debates Alone, Upset Over Being Left Out

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Debates Alone, Upset Over Being Left Out


Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent presidential candidate, was not invited to Thursday’s party in Atlanta. But that did not stop him from taking part remotely in this year’s first presidential debate, streaming live from Los Angeles, thousands of miles away.

Standing alone on a stage that was decked out in red, white and blue, and next to a screen showing CNN’s debate, Mr. Kennedy answered — or, in some cases, evaded — the same questions posed by the CNN hosts to former President Donald J. Trump and President Biden.

The event moderator was John Stossel, a libertarian and former host on ABC and Fox Business who now runs an online commentary platform. The event, billed as “The Real Debate,” was livestreamed by X, and Mr. Kennedy began his remarks by thanking the platform’s owner, Elon Musk.

The Kennedy campaign decided to stage the event after he was shut out of CNN’s debate. To participate in that debate, the network required a candidate to be on enough state ballots to have a chance to secure 271 electoral votes — Mr. Kennedy is officially on the ballot in just seven states. He also had to earn at least 15 percent support in four approved national polls. By last week, he had only three such polls.

Mr. Kennedy’s livestream took on a somewhat clunky format: After Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump answered a question from CNN, the network’s feed was paused and Mr. Stossel posed the same question to Mr. Kennedy.

Mr. Kennedy used the first couple of questions to get in criticisms of CNN, saying the network had “colluded” with the two main candidates “to keep me off the stage.” Minutes later, he said the debate’s format meant nobody was challenging Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden on their “forever wars and out-of-control spending.” And later, he said CNN had been the “biggest cheerleader” of the Covid-19 lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions he said were imposed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden.

On the actual issues, Mr. Kennedy said he believed that abortion should be the choice of the woman, but he added, “Every abortion is a tragedy.” He said that he agreed with Mr. Trump’s plan to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border; that he would “change the function of NATO so that it becomes an instrument of peace”; and, in response to a question about whether he would support the creation of an independent Palestinian state, that the issue had to be decided between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr. Stossel was tough on Mr. Kennedy, imposing the same two-minute response cutoff time that Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden were held to, joking at one point that none of the three candidates had answered a question. The quip was met with laughter — unlike the debate in Atlanta, Mr. Kennedy had a live audience.

About an hour in, after Mr. Kennedy had run through the two-minute mark, Mr. Stossel said: “There’s a voice in my ear telling me to give you more time, but I don’t think that’s right, so — let’s go.”


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