Before FBN Announcement, Rand Paul Told CNN He Wouldn’t Be Making Main Debate

By Chris Ariens 

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Before FBN announced that Rand Paul would not be on the main stage for Thursday’s GOP debate, Sen. Paul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he’d been bumped, and that he won’t participate in the lower tier debate.

“We think it’s a big mistake to do it and we do not think anyone should be able to characterize our campaign as anything less than first tier,” Paul told Blitzer. Fifteen minutes later on FBN, Lou Dobbs announced who did make the cut:

The prime time debate will include Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, and Govs. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich.

Undercard debate invites have gone out to Sen. Paul, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. Rick Santorum. Gov. Jim Gilmore did not qualify.

PaulCNNFox reiterated its qualifications for the debate: “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.” Paul did not make that threshold.

“I think the polls have been wildly inaccurate,” Paul told Blitzer. “It would be very, very arbitrary to exclude me from it and we just won’t take the bait. We’re not going to be designated by any media outlet as not being able to compete in any election.”

Here’s the full memo from the Fox decision desk about the criteria for the FBN debate:

As was previously announced, the 9:00 PM/ET FBN debate will feature the top Republican candidates based on the latest national, Iowa and New Hampshire polling.  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 candidates achieving that are, in order: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich.

The 6:00 PM/ET debate will feature candidates who, while not hitting that threshold, received a minimum 1% support as determined by at least one of the most recent national polls.  The following achieve that:  Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum.

The six* polls used in the national average were conducted by the following organizations: Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP, FOX News, CNN/ORC, Quinnipiac University, ABC News/Washington Post, and Monmouth University.  All were conducted within the last month (the earliest were completed December 13.)  *Six were used rather than five because the earliest two polls were done concurrently.

The six* polls used in the Iowa average were conducted by the following organizations: American Research Group, Quinnipiac University, FOX News, NBC News/WSJ/Marist, Loras College, and The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg.  *Six were used rather than five because the earliest two polls were done concurrently.

The five polls used in the New Hampshire average were conducted by the following organizations:  Monmouth University, American Research Group, FOX News, NBC News/WSJ/Marist, and Franklin Pierce/Boston Herald.

With respect to our criteria for which polls were used to determine inclusion …

  • They are the most recent national and state polls from non-partisan, nationally-recognized organizations using standard methodological techniques.  Recency was determined by actual interview dates (not release date).
  • We only used the most recent results from a particular survey organization so that no single pollster dominates the calculation of averages.
  •  They used live interviewers, included both landlines and cellphones, and employed either random digit-dial or registration-based sampling methodologies.  No online or automated (IVR) polls were used.

Some additional points to note …

Results among registered voters were used rather than adult results when available.

Only results among either 1) self-identified Republican primary voters or 2) Republican and Republican-leaning voters were used.

The rank order was determined by a simple arithmetic average of publicly available results.  Averages were rounded to the nearest tenth of a percentage point.

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