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Rand Paul: Mistake not to have me in the debate
02:16 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

The Kentucky senator held a number of live Q&A sessions on Periscope

Paul expressed frustration with the media and GOP during earlier interview on CNN

CNN  — 

Rand Paul might have been gone from the debate stage on Thursday night, but he worked hard not to be forgotten – on social media.

The Kentucky senator, who was relegated to the undercard by Fox Business Network because of low poll numbers, decided to boycott the gathering in North Charleston, South Carolina, opting instead for a livestreamed question and answer session at Twitter headquarters in New York City.

The goal: Run an end-around on traditional media and the Republican Party by engaging directly with his own supporters and web native amateur interviewers.

The result was a series of decidedly lo-fi Periscope sessions, with a subdued Paul asking viewers at one point to “turn your TV off if you’re bored with that other debate and turn on your computer. Get some real answers to some real questions.”

rand paul periscope

A little more than 17 minutes into the third installment of the virtual town hall, Paul said his “voice was about to run out” and seemed ready to call it a night. But prompted by a voice offscreen, he managed to croak out a thank you to the “liberty-loving folks” who’d tuned into his feed.

Some of those folks also turned out at the debate hall in South Carolina, briefly interrupting the proceedings there with chants of “We want Rand!”

On Twitter, the verdict – at least from Team Paul – was that the strategy had paid off.

“Rand digital going wild tonight,” Vincent Harris, the candidate’s chief digital strategist, tweeted. “Content everywhere. Engagement even higher than during some of previous debates online.”

Still, Paul’s frustration with the GOP and debate hosts was clear. Earlier Thursday he spoke about his predicament on “New Day” with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

“I have an important voice,” Paul said. “What do you think the liberty movement, the liberty voters in the Republican Party, are thinking now? That the Republican Party in league with the media networks is saying we’re not going to let the liberty candidate on the stage.”