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The Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC), an organization dedicated to advancing libertarian ideas within the GOP, officially endorsed Rand Paul for president on Tuesday.

From their statement announcing the decision:

“In a crowded field of candidates, most of whom show little genuine commitment to individual liberty, cutting spending or reducing the size of government, Senator Paul stands out as a consistent champion of the values of the Republican Liberty Caucus: limited government, free enterprise and personal liberty.”

For a presidential candidate to receive the RLC’s endorsement, he or she must earn two-thirds of the votes from all state chapters that make up the organization.

As the RLC’s release noted, “Only a few presidential candidates have earned this honor in the 25 year history of the organization.”

One such candidate was Sen. Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul.

As Matt Nye, RLC National Chairman explained, “The RLC is a 100% grassroots, bottom up organization, and this endorsement indicates Senator Paul is the candidate of choice among our state charters and membership at large.” Nye also noted that, “Senator Paul has been a consistent favorite with our members since he announced his candidacy, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to formally endorse him.”

In October, Paul beat Ted Cruz, considered by some to be another libertarian-friendly candidate, in the group’s annual presidential straw poll during their national convention.

The RLC endorsement comes as the Fox Business channel announced Paul did not qualify to be on the main debate stage Thursday. Prior to the news of his exclusion, Paul said:

“I won’t participate in any kind of second-tier debate. We’ve got a first-tier campaign. I’ve got 800 precinct chairman in Iowa. I’ve got a 100 people on the ground working for me. I’ve raised 25 million dollars. I’m not going to let any network or anybody tell me we’re not a first-tier campaign.”

Paul is standing by this statement, telling the Washington Post that he will “take the debate to Iowa and New Hampshire” instead.

Critics of Fox’s decision have pointed to Paul’s upward trajectory. A recent poll conducted by NBC/Marist places him at 5th in Iowa. This means that Paul is actually ahead of Bush and Christie in the state that kicks off the primary season with its caucus, scheduled for February 1st.

As RLC National Vice Chair Dave Nalle told Rare, “Rand will not be standing on the stage on Thursday, but his ideas will be more significant in their absence.”

“With no voice there to speak for the principles at the heart of the party,” added Nalle “it is imperative that those of us who believe in liberty and limited government make ourselves heard as a movement and fight to save the party from itself.”