On Wednesday’s broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Happening Now,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination reacted to the news his party’s front-runner for that nomination would not be appearing at the Republican presidential debate scheduled for Thursday night in Iowa to be host by Fox News.
Paul told host Jenna Lee this was a positive development for the process and that this will make that debate better.
Partial transcript as follows:
LEE: Senator Rand Paul joins me now from Capitol Hill.
First things first, Senator, because all your other — your buddies, your friends are in Iowa. You’re on Capitol Hill. What are you doing there?
PAUL: Well, you know, I take seriously my role as a U.S. senator. And I’m here. There will be a vote this evening and I’m going to make the vote, and then get on a later plane tonight. The taxpayers pay me, and so I try to show up for work.
LEE: It certainly gets you some frequent flyer miles, I’m sure, traveling back and forth between some of these early states. So let’s tackle this big issue.
You have fought to get on the main debate stage. And we’ve seen that play itself out over the last several weeks as the Fox Business debate has passed. Donald Trump is opting out of a spot on the main stage. What’s your reaction to that?
PAUL: I’d say it’s sort of a double win for me. Not only am I on the main stage, but we don’t have to put up with a lot of empty blather and boastfulness and calling people names. I think we’ll actually have the best debate that we’ve had. And I think a lot of people are still undecided and they know they’re not really getting any serious content from Trump. They’re just getting insults.
And so I think a lot of people are going to tune in and say, “Now’s my chance to see who’s serious.” It’s the last debate right before the election. I think a lot of people are going to tune in. They say a third of Iowans are still undecided. This is a chance to really have a substantive debate on the issues. I’m looking forward to it.
LEE: How are you going to take advantage of his absence?
PAUL: Well, I think there will be more time for everybody. You know, a lot of the debates have centered and given him more time, so it’s a considerable amount of more time for the other candidates. And I’d like to see a more detailed debate, you know, about what tax plans, how we’re going to keep American jobs here. What does it mean to be fiscally conservative?
I frankly think that if you’re liberal with military spending, you’re not really a conservative. And I think that’s been the problem why our budget never gets balanced under Republicans or Democrats. And I think there’s an important debate we can have over whether we should have regime change in the Middle East; whether our interventions have backfired and actually made us less safe.
There’s a whole host of real issues we can debate. And thank goodness Donald Trump and his super-huge ego and he’s taken his ball and he’s going home. That’s all the better for the country, really, as far as I’m concerned.
LEE: Senator Marco Rubio says that he’s concerned that this is a distraction, really, to the field overall. He just issued a statement. He was concerned about the back-and-forth between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. What do you think the risk is about the damage to the party overall as the party faces what is presumed to be a run by Hillary Clinton for the White House?
PAUL: You know, I think Donald Trump taking his ball and going home, there’s absolutely no risk. It’s an improvement to the debate. The, you know, the I.Q. of the debate went up a couple dozen points, I would say. And I think it’s probably a good thing for the party. It shows sort of his delusions of grandeur, that he thinks he gets to dictate everything.
He thinks he’s already elected himself king. So I’d say good riddance. And I’d say we’re going to have a much better debate.
LEE: All right. We’ll look forward to seeing that debate tomorrow night.
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