Paul: I won’t participate in undercard debate
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Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulBuckingham Palace requests 'Trump Train' remove image of queen from bus The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Overnight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines 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.


“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 TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE, Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzYang: Those who thought tweet in support of Israel was 'overly simplistic' are correct CNN asks Carol Baskin to comment on loose Texas tiger Republicans have dumped Reagan for Trump MORE (Texas) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Senate votes to repeal OCC 'true lender' rule Democrats cool on Crist's latest bid for Florida governor 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."