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Fox Business rejects Rand Paul's appeal to be included in GOP debate

Rand Paul speaks during the debate in Las Vegas.

John Locher/AP

A new poll out Wednesday from the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics would have gotten Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, onto the main stage for the Fox Business Network's Republican debate, but the network is sticking to its guns and telling him the results will stand.

The Fox Business criteria, released in late December, said that a candidate had to place among the top six candidates nationally in an average of the five most recent national polls recognized by Fox News, or in the top five in either Iowa or New Hampshire, based on recognized polls in those states. They used 17 polls during the selection process, which are listed in a memo from the network.

The catch (for Paul, at least): The polls had to be released by Monday, January 11 at 6 p.m. ET.

The Des Moines Register concluded their polling by Jan. 10 - the same as the Quinnipiac and ARG surveys, which were included - but they did not release the poll until 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, 36 hours after the deadline. Paul placed fifth in that poll, and including it as one of the five most recent surveys considered would have put Paul in a tie for fifth place with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 4.2 percent, according to CBS News calculations.

For his camp, that's all that matters.

"Senator Paul has met the Fox Business Network criteria and we expect to be included on the main stage," his campaign said in a statement.

FOX Business Network's response was unyielding.

"We announced the criteria in December and clearly stated the polling needed to be conducted and released by Monday, January 11th at 6pm/ET," a spokesperson said.

Paul spent the last day and a half campaigning for inclusion on the main stage - and refusing to participate in the undercard debate - and the new poll only appeared to fuel his ire. He told the Washington Post the Republican National Committee (RNC) has the ability to include him.

"The Republican Party is the most important link here," he said. "The party has worked for six months to push people off the stage. If the Republican Party wants to expand its appeal, it's going to need to attract libertarian-ish leaning voters. If it tries to push liberty voters out, by being disenfranchised or by limiting the debates, there are big risks in doing that."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.