Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has qualified to join Wednesday Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas.
The former New York City mayor met the Democratic National Committee (DNC) threshold after the release of a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll early Wednesday morning. The new national survey shows Bloomberg at 19 percent, trailing behind the frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who garnished 31 percent of support. Former Vice President Joe Biden is in third place with 15 percent support, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) trailed in fourth place at 17 percent. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) came in fifth place with 9 percent support and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounded out the top six at 8 percent support.
To qualify, a candidate needed to have won at least one delegate in Iowa and New Hampshire, or having four national polls showing the candidate with 10% or more. Bloomberg previously cracked 10% in polls from Quinnipiac University, Monmouth University and Fox News. As of Monday, Bloomberg only needed a state or national-level poll showing him over 10 percent to qualify for the forum.
Bloomberg’s campaign has said he will participate in the debate if he qualifies.
“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’s campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, said in a statement. “The opportunity to discuss his workable and achievable plans for the challenges facing this country is an important part of the campaign process.”
“Since Mike launched his campaign 13 weeks ago, he’s met with voters in 25 states and 62 cities,” Sheekey continued. “Our crowds continue to grow, and our coalition continues to broaden. There’s a desire in every corner of this country for a proven leader, for someone who will stand up to bullies and special interests and get things done. That person is Mike Bloomberg, and we look forward to more Americans seeing that on Wednesday night.”
Klobuchar said last week Bloomberg should participate in the forum because he “can’t hide behind the airwaves” and needs to “answer questions.”
“I am also an advocate for him coming on the debate stage. I know that I’m not going to be able to beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage,” she said.
Sanders, on the other hand both said that he doesn’t think Bloomberg should be on a the debate stage because he is “buying elections.”
“I got news for Mr. Bloomberg, and that is the American people are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections,” Sanders said Saturday in a Democratic state dinner in Nevada. “That is what being a multibillionaire is about. Some very good friends of mine who were competing in the Democratic nomination — people like Cory Booker of New Jersey, Julián Castro — work really, really hard. Nobody changed the rules to get them in the debate.”
Biden in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning said that he is “anxious to debate” Bloomberg on issues “relating to the African-American community.”
“$60 billion can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can’t erase your record,” Biden said. “His position on issues relating to the African-American community… you take a look at the stop-and-frisk proposals. You take a look at his ideas on redlining he’s talking about. You take a look at what he’s done relative to the African-American community. I’m anxious to debate Michael on the issues relating to, you know, what we’re going to face in Super Tuesday.”
Bloomberg, has spent more than $300 million of his own money on ads, and despite not competing in the first four states of the nominating process, he is now into second place nationally.
Other candidates who have qualified for Wednesday’s debate are Biden, Buttigieg and Sens. Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar. Fellow billionaire and philanthropist Tom Steyer is still hoping to qualify.
This will be the first time Bloomberg will appear in a debate after entering the presidential race in November.