Billionaire Mike Bloomberg has qualified for Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas,, marking the first time he’ll debate the other candidates vying for the party’s White House nomination.
A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll published Tuesday shows Bloomberg with 19% support nationally in the Democratic nominating contest.
The former New York City mayor, who launched his campaign in November, will appear with former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Neither U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard or billionaire Tom Steyer have qualified for the debate.
The Democratic National Committee recently changed its rules for how a candidate qualifies for the debate, opening the door for Bloomberg to be on stage and drawing the ire of some candidates who dropped out of the race for failing to make prior stages. The candidates were previously required to receive a certain number of campaign contributions to qualify, but Bloomberg, who is worth an estimated $60 billion, is not taking donations.
Bloomberg has poured more than $300 million into television advertising.
Early voting began over the weekend Saturday for the Nevada Democratic Caucus, set for this Saturday, Feb. 22. Nevada Democrats have vowed not to repeat the debacle that was the Iowa caucus, Democrats’ first big political event of 2020 that turned into a circus of delays, glitches and fodder for President Donald Trump and Republicans.
The debate is being hosted by NBC News and MSNBC, in partnership with The Nevada Independent.
After Saturday’s caucus comes the Feb. 29 South Carolina primary, in which Biden is pinning his hopes after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Then comes Super Tuesday on March 3, in which 14 states and American Samoa will cast their primary ballots.
“Mike is looking forward to joining the other Democratic candidates on stage and making the case for why he’s the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and unite the country,” Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement.
Bloomberg has barely crossed paths on the trail with his fellow Democrats. He decided to skip the first four voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina in favor of focusing on the 14 states that vote on March 3 and the contests that come afterward.
The poll released Tuesday shows Sanders leading in the Democratic primary contest, at 31% support nationally. After Bloomberg at 19%, Biden is at 15%, Warren at 12%, Klobuchar at 9% and Buttigieg at 8%. Steyer is at 2%, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is at less than 1%, with 5% undecided.
The telephone survey of 527 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents was conducted by the Marist Poll at the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.4 percentage points.
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