Paul: I won’t participate in undercard debate
© Getty Images

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulKentucky Dems look to vault themselves in deep-red district Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE (R-Ky.) says he won’t participate in the next Republican presidential debate if he fails to make the main stage.

“I won’t participate in any kind of second-tier debates,” Paul said on Fox News Radio's “Kilmeade & Friends” on Wednesday, as first reported by BuzzFeed News.

ADVERTISEMENT
“We’ve got a first-tier campaign. I’ve got 800 precinct chairmen in Iowa. I’ve got 100 people on the ground working for me. I’ve raised $25 million. I’m not gonna let any network or anybody tell me we’re not a first-tier campaign,” he added.

“I frankly just won’t be told by the media which tier I’m in, and we’re not willing to accept that, because we’re a first-tier campaign, and we’re in it to win it, and we won’t be told that we’re in a tier that can’t win.”

Criteria for the next Republican primary debate, hosted by Fox Business Network on Jan. 14, may relegate some candidates previously on the main stage to the second billing.

According to an analysis by The Hill, the next top-tier debate could shrink to six candidates, leaving out GOP candidates like Paul, Carly Fiorina, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 

The Fox Business Network debate allows three avenues for candidates to qualify for the main debate stage.

Participants must place in the top six in an average of five recent national polls, or top five in an average of recent polls from Iowa or New Hampshire.

Currently, according to RealClearPolitics averages, the top six Republican candidates nationally — Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJuan Williams: Trump gives life to the left Kennedy retirement rumors shift into overdrive Pompeo to outline post-deal strategy on Iran MORE, Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTed Cruz and Bill Nelson give NASA a reality check on privatizing International Space Station Ten dead after shooting at Texas high school Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE (Texas) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCongress — when considering women’s health, don’t forget about lung cancer Anti-Maduro Venezuelans not unlike anti-Castro Cubans of yore Tax reform postmortem reveals lethal dose of crony capitalism MORE (Fla.), Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — are in the top five in either Iowa or New Hampshire or both.

Paul had been on the chopping block for CNN's December debate, failing to qualify based off of the criteria the network had previously announced. But CNN decided to include him on the main debate stage without much explanation, chalking it up to new polling released just ahead of the announcement of the debate lineup and "in the spirit of being as inclusive as possible."