Speed Reads

debate drama

Rand Paul to boycott Thursday's GOP undercard debate

After Fox Business Network announced Rand Paul didn't qualify for the prime-time Republican presidential debate on Thursday, the senator from Kentucky rebuffed an invitation to attend the earlier debate.

Instead, Paul told The Washington Post, he plans to "take the debate to Iowa and New Hampshire." The "undercard" debate doesn't have as many viewers as the prime-time one, and Paul said he thinks the network has "made a mistake. 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."

The network said it would give prime-time slots to the six candidates polling the best in national surveys and anyone polling in the top five in Iowa or New Hampshire. Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) is doing poorly nationally, but snagged a spot because he's polling well in New Hampshire. Under this structure, though, Paul and Carly Fiorina have been relegated to the undercard debate. Paul said he's not "willing to accept" his new debate classification. "We're getting bigger crowds," he told the Post. "Just this week, in New Hampshire, we had bigger crowds at the Exeter Town Hall than Bill Clinton." Paul added that his supporters will "understand why we're doing this. You want war? We'll give it to you."