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CNN will allow Rand Paul on debate stage

CNN tweaks debate criteria to allow the low-polling Senator onto the main debate stage.

By Ann Marie Awad
CNN will allow Rand Paul on debate stage
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will make it to the main stage for the next televised GOP presidential debate on CNN Dec. 15. at 8:30 p.m. ET. Photo by Jamie Rhodes/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A small nudge in the polls for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and a rule change in "the spirit of being as inclusive as possible" will allow the trailing presidential candidate to make it to the main debate stage Tuesday evening.

CNN reports Paul was nearly relegated to the undercard stage, but a Fox News poll released Sunday had the Kentucky Senator at 5 percent in Iowa. The boost will put him on the main stage with eight other GOP presidential hopefuls at the CNN prime-time GOP debate on Tuesday Dec. 15 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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CNN's minimum qualifications for the main stage were a 3.5 percent national average, or 4 percent in the early voting states of Iowa or New Hampshire. While Politico reported the Fox News poll only nudged Paul up to a 3.7 percent average in Iowa, but the senator's public campaign to get on the main stage may have convinced CNN.

The Paul campaign released a statement Saturday night saying that "rounding up should be applied" when candidates are chosen for the main stage. Staffers for the campaign tweeted using the hashtag #LetRandDebate over the weekend.

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The move keeps Paul safe from the undercard debate, which will take place at 6 p.m. ET, more than two hours before the main event. Slated for that stage are former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

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