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Rand Paul asks party leaders to include him in upcoming prime-time debate

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Rand Paul has asked Republican Party leaders to include him in Thursday’s prime-time presidential debate, using the results of a new poll in Iowa and his unusual coalition of support as leverage.

Paul did not qualify for the prime-time debate on the Fox Business Network because an average of recent polls in Iowa and New Hampshire did not have him among the top five candidates. But a poll from the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics released Wednesday has Paul in fifth place in Iowa with the support of 5 percent of likely caucus goers.

That poll was not released in time to be considered for the debate. But it was conducted before the deadline.

“Without question the new poll would have me on the debate stage,” Paul said in an interview.

Fox Business Network spokeswoman Caley Cronin said the network would not revise its lineup, pointing out the criteria released in December said all polling had to be completed and released by Jan. 11 at 6 p.m.

The Republican U.S. Senator from Kentucky has languished near the bottom of state and national polling for most of the election cycle following a campaign targeting nontraditional Republican primary voters. He has made an effort to reform the country’s criminal justice system, including eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for most minor drug offenses and restoring voting rights to some felons convicted of nonviolent crimes.

“If the Republican Party wants to be bigger and they want to be a more potent force they ought to consider a lot of these voters are new to the party that we are bringing in and a lot of them frankly could go the other way as to who they vote for in the fall,” Paul said.

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