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Rand Paul Pushes to Get in Main Debate

Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe Wednesday, GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he thought the Republican party was more to blame than the media for his being excluded from the Jan. 14 main event debate, and also said he would be reaching out to Fox Business Network telling them he should be included based on a new poll.

At press time, that effort appeared unlikely to turn the tide.

Paul said that given that he was in fifth place in a just-released Des Moines Register poll, "in front of three people they are going to put in the [main] debate," he should be in there, too.

FBN earlier this week announced the primetime participants in the Jan. 14 debate, which were the top six according to an average of national polls, though obviously not including that just-released poll, and not including Paul, who was to have been in the undercard debate instead.

Paul balked, saying he would not participate in the undercard or be relegated to the second tier when he was a first tier candidate, and said he would be making some noise about it, which he was on Morning Joe. FBN said that skipping the undercard would be Paul's loss.

"We're telling them [FBN] today they should be counting it [the Des Moines Register poll]," Paul told MSNBC. "We will be letting them know today that they should be counting the Des Moines Register poll and seeing if there has been an error in their calculations."

When asked whether FBN could move Paul into the main event based on that poll, an FBN spokesperson pointed out that the polls had to be conducted and released by Jan. 11 to be factored into the decision and that they were "the most recent national and state polls from non-partisan, nationally-recognized organizations using standard methodological techniques." To be in the main event, a candidate needed 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." 

Asked by Joe Scarborough why he was being "kept out," Paul eventually put the blame on the Republican party rather than the media, changing his tack somewhat from earlier statements that the media should not be determining the lineup.

His initial response to Scarborough was the one he gave immediately after learning he was not in the main debate; "I don't think anyone in the media should decide or have an artificial designation on who can and cannot win."

But then asked who was more responsible for the decision, Paul pointed to the party. "I think it is the Republican party. They have been saying for months that they are going to narrow the field, but I don’t think it is the job of the establishment of the Republican party to decide who is and who isn't. We have a thousand precinct chairs in Iowa. We have a bigger and stronger organization arguably than any candidate in Iowa. So I don’t think it's fair for them to arbitrarily decide that because you are .2 behind somebody that we are not going to include you. No, I think it is the Republican Party."

Then asked why the party would want him out, Paul said he had a "unique voice" in the party. "I am the one voice saying we shouldn't make the sand glow. I'm the one voice saying the government shouldn't be collecting all your records, and I'm the one voice saying we shouldn't lock up every kid for marijuana." He suggested they did not want that unique voice in the party.