In the race for the debate stage, Rand Paul makes it -- barely

By Ann Marie Awad   |   Jan. 27, 2016 at 12:42 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has made it to the main stage for the next GOP presidential debate, narrowly meeting the criteria to qualify.

The next debate is scheduled for Jan. 28 in Des Moines, Iowa, to be broadcast on Fox News just days before the Iowa caucuses.

Rand's campaign has been more preoccupied with the race for the prime-time stage in recent weeks. The eight candidates who made the cut were announced in order of polling, with Rand coming in last.

Rand was edged out of the last debate on Jan. 14, but would have been able to participate in the undercard debate. He boycotted the event all together, saying "I won't participate in any kind of second-tier debate."

Paul has criticized the methodology used by networks to determine which candidates qualify for prime time. Due to heavy reliance on polls, the Kentucky Senator often cuts it close because he polls at an average of 2 percent nationally, according to RealClear Politics. He only made it to the Dec. 15 stage by virtue of a last minute rule change.

Despite the fact that he'll be on the main stage on Jan. 28, he won't be able to trade punches with Donald Trump. The mogul bowed out on Tuesday over an ongoing feud with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who is set to moderate Thursday's debate.

That leaves seven candidates total -- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Paul.

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