Fox Business Network has announced the lineup for Thursday’s GOP debate, and while Rand Paul managed to argue his way onto the main stage in the past, he’s finally been demoted to the undercard debate. However, we won’t see the Kentucky senator sticking it to the other weaker candidates because, as promised, he’s decided to throw a tantrum instead.
Weeks ago, Fox Business Network declared that it would be cutting the number of candidates on the main stage from “a ridiculous amount” to “a lot”; only those who topped an average of the five most recent national polls, or five recent polls from Iowa or New Hampshire, would be invited to participate. The network predicted that would cut the debate down to six candidates, but John Kasich was saved by his strong numbers in New Hampshire. He’ll be joined on the main stage by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush.
Paul and Carly Fiorina were invited to debate “kids’ table” regulars Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum earlier in the evening, but Paul is not having it. “I think they’ve made a mistake,” he told the Washington Post. “I’m not willing to accept a designation as a minor campaign. We’ve raised $25 million. We’ve gotten on the ballot on every state. It’s kind of ridiculous to arbitrarily rate the campaigns based on national polling.”
When asked if he thinks his supporters will be upset about his decision to entirely forgo a national TV appearance, he said they’re already fed up with the “arbitrary, capricious polling standard” imposed by the media. “It won’t take much for our supporters to understand why we’re doing this,” Paul explained. “You want war? We’ll give it to you.”
Later his campaign elaborated in a statement to Politico that multiple polls showed Paul should have qualified, and as many others have argued, polling in general offers an inaccurate picture of where the candidates really stand. “To exclude candidates on faulty analysis is to disenfranchise the voter,” the statement said. “Creating ‘tiers’ based on electoral results of real votes might make sense but creating ‘tiers’ on bad science is irresponsible.”
Certainly there are some in the media — cough — who will miss seeing Paul call out fellow candidates for their incoherent or even illegal proposals. It’s still unclear at this point how Paul’s boycott constitutes a “war,” but journalists should probably prepare to be very thoroughly trolled on Twitter.