Sen. Rand Paul found out Monday night that he wasn’t going to be on the main stage for Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in North Charleston, South Carolina.

He didn’t take it so well.

“An artificial designation as being in the second tier is something we can’t accept,” the senator from Kentucky said in a CNN interview. “I won’t participate in anything that’s not the first tier.”

That meant that Paul took a walk on the undercard debate, which aired three hours before the main debate Thursday.

But he didn’t go quietly. In fact, Paul spent the whole week making a spectacle of himself as he pouted and whined his way through TV and radio interviews – casting himself as aggrieved by members of the media.

Paul hit his high/low in a radio interview Thursday in which he said that “99 percent of our supporters are calling in and saying, for the media, that’s where you can go” — as he stuck up his middle finger.

He flipped us the bird! Can you say “presidential”?!?

Heaping indignity upon indignity was the fact that a Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics poll released Wednesday showed Paul in fifth place in Iowa. Had that poll come out two days earlier, Paul would have qualified for the main-stage debate. (One of the criteria that Fox Business Network laid out for candidates to make the prime-time debate was ranking in the top five in an average of the last five polls in Iowa or New Hampshire.)

Gut punch.

Rand Paul, for picking up your ball and going home, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Chris Cillizza is a political reporter for The Washington Post and anchors the Fix blog.


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