By Samantha Flom and Jan Jekielek
A Democratic National Committee (DNC) decision to forgo primary debates would serve as confirmation to American voters that the nation’s elections are “rigged,” according to Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
“Debates and town halls are part of the democratic process,” Kennedy told The Epoch Times’ Jan Jekielek on April 24. “We’re living in a time when there’s a lot of Americans who believe our democracy is broken. And I think both political parties have to bend over backwards to start restoring faith in democracy and electional integrity.
“Americans think the entire system is rigged against them,” he added. “And if the DNC goes through with this—its plan to not have debate—I think that will serve as … an unfortunate confirmation to a lot of Americans that the system is indeed rigged.”
Kennedy’s comments came amid rumors that Biden may formally announce his 2024 presidential campaign this week, given that April 25 marks the anniversary of the date he entered the 2020 presidential race in 2019.
Although Biden has been candid about his intention to run for reelection, speculation as to when a formal announcement might come has been mounting for months. And with two other Democrats—Kennedy and author Marianne Williamson—now in the race, questions about debates have begun to crop up as well.
However, according to a Washington Post report, the Democratic Party has “no plans to sponsor primary debates,” even with multiple candidates vying for the party’s nomination.
While declining to speculate on why the party would have made that decision, Kennedy stressed that such a move would defy democracy itself.
“You need to let the public decide who they want for leadership, rather than party commissars like they did in the Soviet Union or in China,” he asserted.
Kennedy is not the only Democrat to decry the DNC’s plans. Williamson weighed in on the matter as well.
“The DNC ‘plans no primary debates,’” she said in a tweet. “As though there simply ARE no other candidates … no other ideas we should discuss about ways to win in 2024, or other ideas we should discuss about ways to repair the country. Too many people are too smart to accept this.”
Likewise, progressive activist Nina Turner, a former surrogate for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns, slammed the decision as “undemocratic,” holding that it “robs the voters of choice.”
“No one who feels confident in their record and/or ideas would hesitate to stand on them,” she wrote on Twitter. “The DNC should hold debates. This is supposed to be a democratic process.”
The DNC did not respond to an inquiry from The Epoch Times.
At its winter meeting in February, the DNC unanimously expressed its “full and complete support” for Biden’s reelection, just weeks after news broke that he was under federal investigation over his handling of classified documents.
But despite that show of support, whispers of misgivings in the Democratic Party continue to plague the Biden camp, fueled by the country’s increasing economic concerns and disappointing polls.
According to a Harvard Youth Poll published on April 24 by the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, Biden’s approval rating among young voters ages 18–29 has dropped five points since last spring, sinking from 41 percent to 36 percent.
Additionally, according to an April 20 Harvard-Harris poll, in a one-on-one matchup between Biden and the leading Republican candidate, former President Donald Trump, registered voters would pick Trump 45-40 percent.
Perhaps of even greater concern for Democrats is the fact that 67 percent of voters think Biden is “too old” to be president and 56 percent have doubts about his mental fitness for the job.
Nevertheless, the DNC appears poised to throw its weight behind Biden in what will be his fourth presidential campaign, should he formally enter the race.
But Kennedy, who said he would “debate anybody,” noted that the president could still steer the committee in a different direction if he so chooses.
“I’m hoping the president will change his mind,” Kennedy said. “I’m hoping that he’ll let democracy work and that he’ll overrule all the handlers at the DNC.
“I know he has a long history of fighting for democracy, and I hope that he would do the kind of retail politics where you actually meet people—the town halls, the debates, and the interactions with the crowds.”