Elections

Rand Paul returns to main stage for GOP debate

Where does Rand Paul stand?

Where does Libertarian-leaning Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul stand on ISIS, immigration, the minimum wage and gay marriage? (video by Natalie Fertig and Brittany Peterson)
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Where does Libertarian-leaning Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul stand on ISIS, immigration, the minimum wage and gay marriage? (video by Natalie Fertig and Brittany Peterson)

With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses kick off the 2016 presidential nominating contests, Kentucky junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is claiming momentum after being allowed back onto the main Republican debate stage.

The senator was livid after being excluded from the main stage in the last debate because he failed to meet the polling criteria, blaming the media, questioning the polls and refusing to participate in the under-card debate.

But Paul has inched up in the polls in Iowa, allowing him to participate in Thursday’s debate on Fox News Channel.

Donald Trump has dominated headlines with his decision to skip the debate, but Paul called his return to the main stage “the shot in the arm we’ve been waiting for.”

In a fundraising email Tuesday, Paul wrote at length about the importance of appearing in Thursday night’s debate, telling his supporters that most voters “won’t make their final decisions until after this debate.”

“So a strong night for me could make all the difference,” Paul said.

Despite Paul’s optimism and his staff’s claims of momentum, the senator still appears to be a long shot to win any of the early nominating contests and the Republican nomination.

According to the RealClearPolitics average of Iowa polls, Paul has 3.7 percent support, putting him in a tie with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the state but well behind Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

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