Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was misquoted by the Boston Globe on Saturday in an effort by the newspaper to suggest he’s considering dropping out of the 2016 GOP presidential primary.
“We will make an announcement, on that, on Tuesday,” Paul is quoted as saying by the Globe’s Angelina Salcedo and Robert Way, in what they wrote was a response when “asked Saturday by the Globe specifically if he would drop out of the race for president if he didn’t qualify for the main-stage GOP debate.”
“Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is confident he will be on the primetime Republican debate stage Tuesday, but if he falls short, he will make an announcement this week about what comes next,” Salcedo and Way wrote.
That framing was also picked up by The Hill newspaper, which wrote about the Paul comments in New Hampshire: “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Saturday indicated he may end his White House bid if he does not end up in the main stage of CNN’s GOP presidential debate on Tuesday.”
It’s not entirely clear what exact question the Globe asked Paul, but Paul’s communications director, Sergio Gor, emailed reporters on Saturday evening to note that this was clearly a miscommunication—and that Paul is in this race until the end, and the announcement he was referring to in the Globe quote was regarding the debate in Las Vegas.
“We continue to believe Senator Paul should be on the main stage at the next debate, but regardless, Senator Paul is in the race to stay and to win,” Gor wrote in the email. “He was referring to an announcement Tuesday as it relates to the debate.”
Buried inside the Globe piece is a similar comment from Paul’s New Hampshire staff.
“Later Saturday, Matt Chisholm, New Hampshire communications director for the Paul campaign, insisted his candidate was in the race to win,” the Globe reporters wrote. “He said Paul’s quote referred to whether he would participate in a secondary debate on Tuesday if he didn’t qualify for the main-stage event.”
Paul is in a bit of a bind right now, and it’s unclear as of late Saturday evening whether he will make the main stage at the CNN debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday evening. The debate, which will be moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper inside GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian Resort and Casino, has different guidelines regarding main stage participation than previous debates.
“While CNN has given candidates three avenues to qualify for the main stage — meeting either a 3.5 percent average national threshold or a 4 percent average threshold in Iowa or New Hampshire — Paul has failed to muster enough support as of Friday morning, according to The Hill’s analysis of qualifying polls,” The Hill newspaper wrote earlier in the week.
Paul, appearing on Fox News’s the O’Reilly Factor on Friday evening with guest host Eric Bolling, called on CNN to give him the same benefit of the doubt the network gave to former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina earlier in the cycle in the last CNN debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
“We think if they give us the same treatment that Carly Fiorina was given last time, that you measure from debate to debate, that we do meet the criteria,” Paul said in that appearance.
“I have every expectation that I will be treated fairly,” he added. “But I want the same and equal treatment that other candidates have gotten in the past. We have a first-tier campaign and we don’t plan on being labeled by the mainstream media anything less.”
CNN is expected to announce its debate stage participants for both the main stage and undercard debates on Sunday. Paul would certainly qualify for the undercard debate, but the question remains as to whether he’d make the main stage.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was bumped off the main stage at the last debate, in Milwaukee, but has risen back up thanks to a surge ahead of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in New Hampshire and will make the main stage in Las Vegas.