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Clinton still fights Sanders for N.H.

Welcome to Trail Guide, your host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Thursday, Dec. 24, and here's what we're talking about:

New Hampshire is awash in Democratic field organizers

New Hampshire has always been a hard-fought battleground in presidential elections. But in this cycle, it’s notable just how hard the Democrats are fighting.

Talking to reporters in the media “spin room” following last weekend’s Democratic debate, New Hampshire party chair Ray Buckley added some context to the numbers flying around regarding how many paid organizers each of the candidates has in the state. Bernie Sanders has 41. That, Buckley said, is more than all the paid organizers of every single GOP candidate added together – and there are 13 Republicans competing in New Hampshire.

Hillary Clinton, by the way, has even more field organizers there than Sanders. And Martin O’Malley, who is polling at a very, very distant third place, has more paid staffers in New Hampshire than any single GOP candidate there.

We take a look at why the Democrats, in particular, are so aggressively going after voters in the Granite State.

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Media focus on Trump's 'bombastic' words, Sanders says

The media are to blame for Donald Trump’s success, Sen. Bernie Sanders said in an interview with CNN, in which he argued that a focus on the billionaire’s “bombastic” and “silly” comments has distorted the presidential campaign.

A recent study showed that over one stretch this fall, “on ABC evening news, Trump over a period of time got 81 minutes of time. Bernie Sanders got 20 seconds. Now you tell me why," Sanders said.

“I think it has to do with the fact that Trump is very smart,” he continued. “He knows that media is not so interested in the serious issues facing this country. They love bombastic remarks.

“I think this is more of an indictment of the media than it is Trump,” he said.

CNN host Chris Cuomo, who interviewed Sanders, objected that “you can’t just wipe off all this popularity that he has with a growing base of the GOP. They’re putting him first in the polls not because of the media. They say they hate the media. They just love Trump.”

But Sanders challenged Trump’s credibility as an actual presidential candidate, saying he was offering extreme, unfeasible solutions to the country’s problems, such as deporting all illegal immigrants and refusing to allow any Muslims into the country.

“Well, that is not the solution to our problems,” he said. “That is simply scapegoating minorities, playing one group off against one another. It’s what demagogues have always done.

“[Americans] are worried to death about their kids, and they’re worried about the economy,” he added.

Real solutions require more than a 60-second sound bite, Sanders said.

“These are the kinds of debates that we have to have,” Sanders said. “And I would urge and beg the media to allow us to have that debate and not just pick up on Trump’s one-liners.”

Paul will refuse the undercard stage at the January GOP debate

Sen. Rand Paul speaks before announcing the start of his presidential campaign in Louisville, Ky., on April 7. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Sen. Rand Paul speaks before announcing the start of his presidential campaign in Louisville, Ky., on April 7. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

If kicked down to the undercard stage at the Jan. 14 GOP debate in South Carolina, he won’t participate, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told Fox News.

In an interview Wednesday, Paul said that his campaign is worth more than a secondary stage.

“Doesn’t mean I’m gonna win, but I think without question we have a first-tier campaign and we just can’t accept the designation of being artificially told that we don’t have a chance with three weeks to go,” Paul said in an interview with Fox News host Brian Kilmeade.

Fox Business Network, host of the event, announced earlier this week that the six candidates with the highest standing in an average of national polls would be invited to the main debate, as would any candidate in the top five in Iowa or New Hampshire polls. Nine candidates took part in the most recent debate, on Dec. 15 in Las Vegas.

Paul’s poll numbers sit on the edge of that cutoff, but he said he refuses to concede by so little.

"It’s the kids’ table, and at that table you’re not considered to be a competitor, not considered to be having a chance,” he said.

Paul gained a lot of his own media attention Wednesday on Twitter by airing his grievances about everything including his Republican rivals and perceived failures of the government. His #AiringofGrievances played off of the Festivus celebration created in the '90s sitcom “Seinfeld.”

Twitter users quickly picked up on the Kentucky senator’s account and spent the day retweeting his attacks and criticisms of American politicians and legislation.

Poll numbers might reflect Paul’s attempt to push his way back into the voter’s purview using social media. But the senator said he doesn’t believe poll numbers should determine who can participate in the main debate. He suggested the Republican National Committee and host networks also factor in fundraising success and strength in a candidate’s organization when choosing.

“There’s no evidence that the polling’s very accurate so if we’re gonna make our decisions based on polling why have elections?” he asked in the Fox News interview. “You know, we can have ‘American Idol’ contests instead. I think it’s a huge mistake to allow that to happen.”

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