DES MOINES — With Thursday's debate lineups set to be announced Monday, Sen. Rand Paul refuses to accept that he might be relegated to the undercard debate.
When asked Friday if he still plans to skip out on the debates altogether if he is indeed relegated, Paul declined to take no for an answer, saying his campaign will not "settle" for anyone saying they don't belong because of the quality of his campaign.
"I'm committed to exerting all the influence I have to make sure they know that we do qualify," Paul told the Washington Examiner after a town hall in Oskaloosa, Iowa focusing on eminent domain. The Kentucky senator pointed to recent polls from CNN and CBS showing him within striking distance of making the main stage.
"We're not going to settle for anybody telling us that we don't qualify because we do believe we qualify," Paul said. "We will exert every bit of microphone we can use to let people know that we're first tier and we'll continue to be."
With the comment, Paul decidedly did not double down on recent remarks in which he said he would outright refuse to participate in anything other than the main debate on Thursday. The 2016 hopeful made the initial remarks shortly before Christmas.
"I won't participate in any kind of second-tier debate," Paul told Fox News' Brian Kilmeade at the time. "Doesn't mean I'm gonna win, but I think without question we have a first-tier campaign and we just can't accept the designation of being artificially told that we don't have a chance with three weeks to go."