Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

How RFK Jr.’s debate dilemma compares to past third-party candidates: From the Politics Desk

By 37ci3 May22,2024



Welcome to the online version of From the policy deskevening bulletin that brings you the latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill from the NBC News Politics team.

In today’s edition, national political reporter Steve Kornacki compares the poll of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to former third-party candidates who have qualified for the debates. Plus, Katherine Doyle, who documented every day of Donald Trump’s money trial, reveals what happens after the defense stops working.

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RFK Jr. presents a historical debate dilemma

By Steve Kornacki

Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to qualify for the presidential debates could present organizers and rival campaigns with a dilemma they haven’t seriously faced in decades.

At the moment, it seems unlikely that Kennedy will take the stage for the June 27 debate. This is largely due to ballot access requirements set by sponsor CNN. To run, he must be eligible to vote in states with at least 270 electoral votes. But it may not even be possiblesome states don’t even process applications submitted until late spring.


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As for the other key criteria, Kennedy can make it clear. CNN appointed 12 national pollsters and required each debater to reach 15% support in at least four of the polls conducted between March 13 and June 20. The level of support each has shown for Kennedy and two other potential third-party applicants, Cornel West and Jill Stein:

Even if he responds to CNN’s request for a poll, he won’t put Kennedy on the June debate stage. But the fact that it’s already halfway places it in rare historical company and points to more controversy surrounding other debates this summer and fall.

Since 1976, televised general election debates have been part of every campaign. And in general, numerous independent candidates are trying to join the Democratic and Republican candidates on the stage. But these candidates are almost always polling in the low single digits at best. Excluding them and limiting the proceedings to major-party candidates usually doesn’t cause much confusion.

But three times since 1976, independent candidates have consistently polled in the double-digit range, as Kennedy has now.

In 1980, there was John Anderson, a liberal Republican from Illinois who ran unsuccessfully in the GOP primaries and then ran as an independent. The League of Women Voters, which was leading the debate organization at the time, announced that if it could reach 15% by Labor Day, it would look at several polls and invite Anderson to participate.

He did, and was immediately invited to the first debate of the fall, along with Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. But Carter’s campaign believed that Anderson was getting the majority of his votes. Thus, Carter announced that he would participate in the three-way debate only if there was a one-on-one meeting with Reagan. Reagan rejected the request, and the League’s debate began as planned in September – with only Reagan and Anderson present.

It is the only nationally televised general election debate featuring only one major party candidate. After that, Reagan’s polling improved, while Anderson’s support dropped below 10%. Nevertheless, Carter complied with his request, and for more than a month no further discussion took place. Finally, in late October, the League announced that Anderson would no longer be entered due to declining polling, and the only Reagan-Carter debate was immediately scheduled.

By 1992, debate sponsorship was transferred to the Commission on Presidential Debates, a bipartisan group (until now). this year it was thrown aside. The 1992 debate remains the only one to include a third candidate along with the major party nominees: Ross Perot.

The Commission’s inclusion criteria were subjective; candidates with a “real chance” of winning were invited. Leading three-way polls in the late spring before 10 weeks out of the race, Perot had become such a national sensation that neither the commission nor the campaigns of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush felt comfortable leaving him out.

But when Perot ran again in 1996, he was voted out. The commission’s criteria had not changed, but Perot’s star had faded. A Gallup poll released around the time the commission officially rejected him in September put Perot at just 7% against Clinton and Bob Dole.

In the 28 years since then, several third-party candidates (Ralph Nader in 2000, Gary Johnson in 2016) have reached mid-to-high single digits in the polls—enough to stir some controversy, but not enough to force them into the debate. not enough. . But it may be harder to say no to Kennedy, especially if he can increase his support by a few points.


The defense stands without Trump’s testimony — here’s what comes next

by Katherine Doyle

In just a few hours in court, Donald Trump’s legal team presented its entire case New York hush money lawsuit: Don’t trust Michael Cohen.

After presenting two witnesses, one of whom was a staff member tasked with explaining the spreadsheet, the defense formally rested its case Tuesday.

Key defense witness Robert Costello returned to the stand Tuesday morning and quickly came under fire for how he characterized his relationship with Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, as prosecutors repeatedly used his words against him.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger twisted the knife on Monday, referring to Costello’s comments, when she presented him with emails and notes disputing his characterization of an email that spoke for itself.

A few minutes later, the defense stopped his work.

Trump will not testify: 22 witnesses testified in 16 days. But despite repeatedly saying he wanted to be among them, Trump ultimately did not testify in his own defense.

Trump spoke at least once a day in front of cameras set up by the media outside the courtroom. At the beginning of the trial, he offered to testify, but later changed his mind. Legal experts have long noted that Trump would face intense cross-examination if he took the stand.

What’s next? Both sides spent the second half of the day going through jury instructions with the judge, known as a jury conference.

Jurors will not return until next Tuesday, when closing arguments in the case begin. That gave Judge Juan Merca’s initial instructions to jurors — not to read or listen to any transcripts or comments of the trial — added weight.

Merchan expects closings to last until next Wednesday, followed by jury instructions.

Read more from the 20th day of the Trump trial →



🗞️ The best stories of the day

  • 🗳️ If it’s Tuesday: Today is Election Day in several parts of the country, with California voters looking to replace former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and several notable down-ballot primaries in Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky and Oregon. More →
  • 🤓 Portlandia: Politico examines the county attorney’s race in Oregon’s Multnomah County, where voters across Portland, where incumbent Mike Schmidt is running for another term, are venting their frustrations about the state of the city to progressive prosecutors. More →
  • 🚫 Deleted: Trump’s social media account shared a video on Monday in which a “unified Reich” was one of the possible consequences of his election in November, sharply criticizing the Biden campaign. The post of the video was removed from Truth Social by Tuesday morning. More →
  • 👀 ‘We’re looking at it’: Trump said in an interview that he is open to some restrictions on birth control, and said that he will soon announce his policy on this issue. More →
  • 💸 Cash: New fundraising reports released Monday night show that Trump and the RNC are ramping up fundraisers to help him pay off his legal debts. But Biden still has more money to spend. More →
  • 🌎 Israel latest: Biden has a decision to censure the International Criminal Court prosecutor for issuing arrest warrants for Israeli leaders. It put the US at odds with some of its allies. On Monday, it was also reported that former Trump foreign policy officials recently met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival, Benny Gantz. More →

For now, that’s it from The Politics Desk. If you have feedback – like it or not – send us an email politicsnewsletter@nbcuni.com

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