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

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Lawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program 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 TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE, Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (Texas) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration 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."