Will Rand Paul Be In The GOP Debate? The Seventh Round May See Another Boycott
The final Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses is right around the corner and the criteria for the main stage and the warm-up round have been announced by host Fox News. Candidates will likely be announced on Tuesday evening after the day's polling has been crunched by the numbers nerds at Fox, but the big question going into the final week of campaigning before Iowa comes together to caucus is whether or not Senator Rand Paul will be in the GOP debate at all. Update: On Tuesday, Fox announced Rand Paul would feature in the debate.
Paul boycotted the last GOP debate after failing to qualify for prime time, instead choosing to spend the time engaging with friends and foes alike directly on Twitter. He also made the quietly savvy move of promoting his boycott on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah with some Kentucky bourbon and a list of issues that he would have addressed had he been invited to the main event.
Similar criteria will be in place this time: to appear on the main stage, candidates will have to be in the top six nationally, or in one of the top five places in Iowa or New Hampshire, in the most recent five polls. Anyone else who has been able to crack one percent nationally in Fox News' landline poll will be allowed to participate in the early debate.
As it stands, The Huffington Post's polling aggregator is reporting that Paul is currently ranked seventh after averaging national polling, and information out of New Hampshire and Iowa. Barring any unforeseen swings in public opinion between now and Tuesday, it seems unlikely that Paul will be invited to the main stage. Whether or not he will chose to boycott the earlier debate this time around is not clear.
Despite the setbacks on the officially-sanctioned campaign trail, the civil libertarian and devotee of the rather esoteric Austrian school of economic philosophy hasn't been slacking off. Last Thursday, Paul hosted an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit where he directly engaged with thousands of users of the popular internet forum community, discussing a diverse array of topics like political philosophy, amusing gifs, the national debt, his views on true bipartisanship and his personal favorite fantasy universe: Tolkien's Middle-earth.
Paul is the only GOP candidate this election cycle who has taken the time to talk directly with potential supporters on reddit; his Senate colleague Bernie Sanders is the only other candidate to do an "Ask Me Anything" session on the platform. Paul also reaffirmed a commitment to release the 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 Commission Report and to initiate an audit of the Federal Reserve system: two thorny positions which place him at odds with what remains of the establishment GOP and the insurgent Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.