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HomeU.STrump Says He Has ‘No Problem’ Including R.F.K. Jr. in Debates

Trump Says He Has ‘No Problem’ Including R.F.K. Jr. in Debates

Former President Donald J. Trump said on Thursday that he would be open to including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent presidential candidate, in two upcoming debates between him and President Biden, though Mr. Biden’s team has made clear that is not an option.

Speaking to Scripps News, Mr. Trump said that as long as Mr. Kennedy met the criteria for participation set by the networks hosting the debates — CNN and ABC News — he would not object to having Mr. Kennedy onstage.

“Well, I have no problem with him,” Mr. Trump told Charles Benson, a political correspondent for the Scripps television station WTMJ in Milwaukee, before taking a swipe at Mr. Kennedy. “I think he’s really not doing well in the polls at all. His numbers have gone down a lot lately.”

President Biden’s campaign stipulated in a recent memo that the debates should be limited to him and Mr. Trump. While Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump agreed to participate in two debates, one on June 27 and another on Sept. 10, the terms are still being worked out.

In a social media post on Thursday, Mr. Trump taunted Mr. Biden about the possible inclusion of Mr. Kennedy, writing that Mr. Kennedy was “sharper and far more intelligent” than Mr. Biden, and that the two would be “debating over the same territory, like ridiculous Open Borders and the Green New Scam.”

A spokesman for Mr. Biden’s campaign referred to a statement on Wednesday from Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Mr. Biden’s campaign chair, asserting that “Donald Trump has a long history of playing games with debates.”

Mr. Kennedy vowed to qualify for next month’s debate on CNN in a social media post on Wednesday. He also vented about his possible exclusion. “They are afraid I would win,” he said of Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump.

CNN and ABC News are using similar criteria, requiring participants to have received at least 15 percent support in four approved national polls and to have qualified for the ballot in enough states to have the chance to earn the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Only two national polls currently have Mr. Kennedy above the 15 percent threshold — one from Quinnipiac University and another from CNN — and he is presently on the ballot in just six states, worth a combined 89 electoral votes.

His campaign is trying to secure ballot access in all 50 states, an expensive and time-consuming process that is expected to draw legal challenges from Democrats aligned with Mr. Biden.

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