Rand Paul To Boycott Thursday Night’s GOP Debate After Being Relegated to “Undercard” Round

Seven Republican candidates will take part in Thursday’s main stage GOP primary debate in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Kentucky senator and presidential hopeful, Rand Paul, will not be one of those candidates, according to an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, resulting in his boycott of the debate altogether later this week.

“I won’t participate in anything that’s not first tier because we have a first tier campaign,” the Kentucky senator told CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer.

The debate will be hosted by The Fox Business Network and though the network announced that it would only include the top six candidates based strictly off the average of the five most recent national polls last month, Thursday’s main stage will include the top seven (and not six) candidates, a criteria Paul failed to meet.

“to qualify, a candidate needs to be either among the top six in an average of the five most recent national polls, or among the top five in an average of the five most recent Iowa or New Hampshire polls.” The Fox Network announced last month.

“We only used the most recent results from a particular survey organization so that no single pollster dominates the calculation of averages.”

Thursday’s Fox debate will include front runner Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich, the latter showing strong support in New Hampshire that may have catapulted him over Paul to take part in Thursday’s GOP primary debate.

Despite being a part of the main stage in last month’s CNN debate, both Paul and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina have been relegated to the undercard debate that will also include former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

With Rand Paul’s decision to refrain from Thursday’s debate, the Republican undercard debate will now include no more than three candidates.

Paul has since accused the debate’s sponsor of erroneously keeping him off the main stage debate.

“It’s a mistake because the thing is we actually have been in the top five or six in most of the recent polls. In fact, last week in a national poll we were just one point out of fourth place. So I think it’s a mistake to try to exclude me from the national debate,” he told Blitzer.

Following Paul’s interview with CNN his campaign released a statement taking aim at the media’s treatment of the Kentucky senator and is turning to voter support to counter The Fox affiliate’s decision to keep Paul out of Thursday’s main stage GOP debate.

“By any reasonable criteria Sen. Paul has a top tier campaign,” the statement read. “He will not let the media decide the tiers of this race and will instead take his message directly to the voters of New Hampshire and Iowa.”

“Multiple national polls including CNN, CBS, Fox, Marist and others have him in 5th or 6th place, one had him just a single point out of 4th,” the statement continued. “In multiple polls he scores ahead of Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Carly Fiorina. In yesterday’s Marist Iowa poll he was alone in 5th place. In fact his numbers are on the rise in recent weeks.”

CNN also reported that Fox Business did not advertise which polls were used to decide which of the candidates were to be a part of Thursday’s main stage.

According to Politico, Paul ranked 8th among his fellow republican candidates in New Hampshire’s latest poll behind Jeb Bush.

[AP Photo/John Locher]