Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he would refuse to participate in a “second-tier” debate if he does not qualify for the main stage at the Fox Business Network debate.
Paul, who polled at 4% in a survey released Wednesday, could be sent to the undercard debate, Politico reported Tuesday, along with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. Paul was not too pleased with the prospect that his campaign had lost steam.
“I won’t participate in any kind of second-tier debate,” he said on Fox News Radio’s Kilmeade and Friends. “We’ve got a first-tier campaign. I’ve got 800 precinct chairman in Iowa. I’ve got a 100 people on the ground working for me. I’ve raised 25 million dollars. I’m not gonna let any network or anybody tell me we’re not a first-tier campaign. If you tell a campaign with three weeks to go that they’re in the second-tier, you destroy the campaign. This isn’t the job of the media to pick who wins. The voters ought to get a chance.”
Paul said that a shrinking main debate stage lays “it up in a lap” for front-runner Donald Trump, arguing that he is the only one on stage that can challenge the real estate mogul. He said that regardless of the viewership numbers for the undercard debate, it was about the perception of his campaign not being competitive. “It’s the kids table and at that table you’re not considered to be a competitor,” Paul said. “Not considered to be having a chance.”
Rather than rely on what he called imprecise polling to determine who gets on stage, Paul argued that fundraising and organization should be qualifiers.
“Without question, we have a first-tier campaign and we just can’t accept the designation of being artificially told that we don’t have a chance with three weeks ago. So we won’t stand for it and we will protest any such designation,” he said.