What Did The Chanters Say During The GOP Debate? One Republican's Boycott Takes Center Stage
In the final minutes of Thursday night's GOP debate, a chant from some members of the audience briefly interrupted the questioning and threw moderator Neil Cavuto for a loop. But, what exactly did the chanters say?
The chanters said, "We want Rand," referring to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who notoriously chose to boycott Fox Business Network's undercard debate after failing to qualify for the primetime stage. Paul first made the announcement during an interview on CNN, claiming that his resentment for the media's control over the debate proceedings led to the boycott. He also stated that his polling numbers were extremely close to qualifying for the primary debate, and his campaign refused to accept "an artificial designation" of second-tier candidate.
Instead of attending the official undercard debate, Paul went on a full-fledged media blitz, making multiple appearances on several different networks in just two days, including hosting a "Rand Rally" at Twitter's office during the debate. One of his stops was on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to take on the late-night show host in a one-on-one debate/drinking game to focus on some of the issues that Paul would have touched on at the GOP debate. Noah expressed admiration for the libertarian senator, which prompted the invitation to participate in his own version of the main stage showdown. The senator's laid-back approach to the interview and the Kentucky bourbon that Noah provided was definitely a stark contrast to the buttoned-up nature of the official debate.
Paul's debate boycott strategy might have actually worked very well. The last undercard debate only garnered about 4.7 million viewers, and Paul's various television appearances were viewed by no less than 7 million people. The exposure and uninterrupted communication were huge benefits from the strong, calculated move by the candidate — it may have been a better decision than attending the official debate.
Yet, as evidenced by the protesters, there were still those who missed having Paul around on Thursday night. Presumably, the chants were meant to disparage FBN for excluding Paul from the main stage, but they had the added benefit of making it clear to the nation that Paul has a presence in the voter base. Even if Paul didn't meet the network's standards to sit at the grownups' table, there's still at least a few who really wanted him there.
The chanters were only audible for a moment, but they made a lasting impact. Given the attention that Paul was able to capture without even being in the room, the host of the next debate may rethink their invitation criteria.