Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, came out swinging against Reince Priebus’ Republican National Committee (RNC), putting the blame squarely at the RNC’s doorstep for cutting him from the main debate stage in Charleston, South Carolina, on Thursday.
“I think the establishment wants fewer voices,” Paul said when asked why he thinks the RNC is to blame for this.
They want an artificial designation saying that all of a sudden, we’re going to change the amount of voices on the stage. But I think it’s a mistake. There are a lot of libertarian or liberty voters out there that could be the deciding vote and if you want to keep them in the Republican Party it would make sense for the party to treat liberty-leaning candidates with more respect. It is a problem, trying to keep liberty and independent voters in the party so we’ll see what happens but I can tell you our supporters aren’t too happy at the process now.
Fox Business Network, which is moderating the debate, announced earlier this week that Paul and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina wouldn’t make the main debate stage due to a collection of polling statistics. Fiorina will compete on the undercard debate stage, but Paul will not stoop to competing there—he’s abstaining from the debate entirely.
“I think it’s a mistake because I think the media should not get to designate which tier candidates are in,” Paul told Breitbart News when asked why he’s not going to appear on the undercard debate stage.
I think it’s a mistake to accept an artificial designation of being in the second tier—so I think it’s an artificial designation and a mistake, and if you show up for that you’re basically accepting you’re in the second tier. So I think it’s a mistake for a campaign to accept any kind of artificial designation. It would then become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. So we will take our message directly to New Hampshire and Iowa voters. We’ve been getting bigger and bigger crowds. Last week, we announced a thousand precinct chairmen in Iowa—which is more than any other campaign. So far from being a campaign that’s struggling, we’re actually one that has more on the ground and a ground game than anyone else out there.
New reports out Wednesday suggest that if the Des Moines Register had released its poll showing Paul in fifth place at 5 percent before Wednesday morning, Paul would have qualified for the main debate stage easily.
“But a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll in Iowa released Wednesday morning has Paul at 5 percent — alone in fifth place,” Politico’s Steven Shepard wrote. “In fact, if the Des Moines Register poll is included on the list of the five most recent polls, it gets Paul into a tie for fifth place with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 4.2 percent. That, presumably, would get Paul onto the main stage.”
In response to the decision, Paul said the entire polling and decision-making process is “arbitrary and capricious.”
“I’d say it’s arbitrary and capricious in the sense that just last week in a CBS national poll we were just one point out of fourth place,” Paul said.
So to exclude from the main debate somebody who’s been in the top five or six in the last half dozen polls does seem to me to be a mistake. So it seems to me they made a mistake here. If you look at the last five or six polls, we’ve been in the top five or six in those. In the last few national polls, we’ve beaten Chris Christie, Kasich and Fiorina. It kind of seems silly to leave someone off the debate stage who’s beating four out of the five who will be on the stage.