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Rand Paul will skip next GOP debate

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he will not participate in the upcoming Fox Business Republican debate after he was relegated to the undercard round due to his low polling numbers.

"By any reasonable criteria, Senator Paul has a top tier campaign. He will not let the media decide the tiers of this race and will instead take his message directly to the voters of New Hampshire and Iowa," Paul's campaign said in a statement Monday evening.

In an interview on CNN earlier that day, Paul said dividing up the candidates by polling numbers was a "rotten" thing to do and declared, "We will not participate in anything that's not first tier."

"We do not think that anyone should be able to characterize our campaign as anything less than first tier," Paul said. "We've raised $25 million. We'll be on the ballot in every state and we just announced the other day we have 1,000 precinct chairs in Iowa."

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. They considered six different national polls because two were conducted concurrently.

The candidates who will be on the main debate stage at 9 p.m. Thursday include businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina were pushed to the undercard debate, where they will join former Pennsylvanian Sen. Rick Santorum. Paul would have been in that debate as well had he not announced his intention to skip it.

Paul's campaign said that "multiple national polls" from outlets including CNN, CBS, Fox and Marist had him in 5th or 6th place. Fox Business used polls from Investor's Business Daily/TIPP, FOX News, CNN/ORC, Quinnipiac University, ABC News/Washington Post, and Monmouth University that were conducted within the last month. CBS News' poll, which had Paul in fifth place, was published earlier in December than the polls used by Fox Business.

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Paul's polling numbers also didn't qualify him for the main stage at the last GOP debate moderated by CNN in December, but the network made a last-minute decision to include him citing a recent poll showing him tied with Bush and "the spirit of being as inclusive as possible."

The candidate is trying to fundraise off the debate snub, emailing supporters with the subject line, "Are you kidding me?"

"I know the media and the Washington machine have been trying to block our message, but I didn't think they'd go this far," Paul said. "The media doesn't care about the truth, they care about their own agenda. They want to decide the 'tiers' of this race and name the winners and losers. I will not stand for this."

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Fox Business did release the list of polls used to determine who was on the main debate stage.

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