Sen. Rand Paul let the cat out of the bag telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer tonight that he didn’t make it on the main stage of Thursday’s Fox Business Network debate – so he’s not going.
‘We will not participate in anything that’s not first tier,’ the Kentucky senator said
Paul was the candidate most in danger of being tossed out of primetime as Republicans gather in South Carolina to debate one last time before the Iowa caucuses, but Carly Fiorina got the boot too.
Fox Business Network announced the lineup during Lou Dobbs’ show and while, initially, only six candidates were supposed to participate in the January debate based on polling, seven made the cut.
Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich were all named.
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Sen. Rand Paul was told by Fox Business Network that he would have to participate in the undercard debate on Thursday. Paul called it a mistake and plans to boycott the South Carolina affair
Carly Fiorina, like Rand Paul, was told that she had been demoted to the junior varsity debate on Thursday. Fiorina had started the campaign at the kids table, but fought her way onto the main stage by September
With only seven candidates participating on Thursday, it will mark the smallest amount of Republican hopefuls on stage during this campaign cycle
With Paul out, the undercard debate will feature the smallest amount of candidates this campaign cycle has seen.
Fiorina will join junior varsity veterans Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.
Fiorina started the campaign having to participate in the Fox News kids table debate in August, before being elevated to the main stage by the time the CNN debate in Simi Valley, California, rolled around.
Last month, Santorum and Huckabee shared the stage with Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York governor George Pataki, who have both since dropped out.
The six candidates chosen topped the five most recent national polls, or placed in the top five in Iowa or New Hampshire, using the five most recent polls conducted in those two important early states.
Paul was steamed about the decision.
Donald Trump (right) will once again be front and center at Thursday night’s debate, while Marco Rubio (left) will be among the seven participating on the main stage
‘I don’t think the media should have the power to predetermine elections,’ Paul told Blitzer before spilling the beans about his debate fate before Fox Business Network had officially released Thursday’s roster.
‘We think it’s a rotten thing to do to try to designate which candidates have a chance and don’t,’ Paul added.
The Kentucky senator said he’s spend the next few days protesting the network’s move, which he also said would harm the Republican party.
‘The Republican party needs a voice like mine,’ Paul said, noting his unique position as a dove within a party of hawks, as well as a candidate who has stood against government surveillance and for criminal justice reform.
Paul said he also felt that the last debate, which took place in December in Las Vegas, was the most substantive on foreign policy – and nine candidates were participating.
A spokesperson for Fiorina did not respond to a request for comment.
Fox Business Network also sponsored a debate in November and the same moderators will anchor Thursday night’s debate – a team of Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, Trish Regan and Sandra Smith.