Dean Phillips says RFK Jr. should be included in Trump, Biden debates

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) praised former President Trump and President Biden’s decision to debate one another but said he thinks independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. should also be included.

Asked by Fox News’s Bret Baier what he makes of the announcement Wednesday about the debates, which will take place in June and September, ahead of a typical schedule, Phillips said he thinks “hallelujah.”

“Debate is the vitamin of democracy. It wasn’t long ago, Brett, that it seemed like there may not be a debate for the first time in modern history between the two major party candidates. So, it’s good,” he said.

“Would I prefer that the Commission on Presidential Debates continued their nonpartisan hosting and perhaps include third party candidates? Of course,” Phillips continued. “Because 25 to 30 percent of the country right now plans not to vote for either President Biden or former President Trump.”

Still, Phillips said the agreement is a step in the right direction and hopes when the debates do happen, they talk about legitimate policy and don’t argue or talk over one another.

Biden’s campaign proposed two debates with Trump on Wednesday, overstepping the commission and challenging the former president to his first debate since the pair went head-to-head in 2020. Trump skipped all of the GOP primary debates and instead campaigned.

Trump accepted the offer to debate both in June and September, saying “’Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!’”

Phillips, who launched a Democratic bid to unseat Biden but failed to gain much support, said he wished that Kennedy would have been included in the invite, because he would have been a “thoughtful, engaging debater” on stage with Biden and Trump.

“The more the better, competition is good, Brett and I’m seeing too many efforts to diminish it rather than promote it,” he said.

The debates were picked up by CNN and ABC. ABC announced it would make the debate available for simulcast on other networks and Phillips said he thinks it’s a good idea.

“Like I said, the more people that see conversation, debate, deliberation, the better. In the absence, I think democracy dies,” he said.

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