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Dems to Welcome a New Face to Debate Stage

Michael Bloomberg qualifies and will take part in Wednesday event in Las Vegas
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2020 6:22 AM CST

(Newser) – The next Democratic debate, the ninth so far, will feature a brand-new face onstage. CNN reports that Michael Bloomberg has qualified for Wednesday evening's event in Las Vegas by earning 19% support in an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, making it the former New York City mayor's fourth national poll in which he earned above 10%—a Democratic National Committee requirement to earn a spot in the televised back-and-forth. Bloomberg is "looking forward to joining the other Democratic candidates ... and making the case for why he's the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and unite the country," his campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, says in a statement. A Bloomberg rep also confirmed to NBC News on Monday that he would take part in the Vegas debate if he qualified.

So far, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren have also qualified, with a deadline of 11:59pm Tuesday for any other stragglers; candidates can also qualify by earning 12% in two single-state polls out of Nevada and South Carolina, or by having at least one delegate from the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary. CNN notes this will be the "first significant campaign test" for Bloomberg, who hasn't yet faced off directly against the other candidates. And while those others seem primed to go on the attack against Bloomberg, there are also grumblings about the DNC's recent move to do away with the grassroots donor threshold it had in place, paving the way for him to attend. "To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg ... is wrong," says a Sanders adviser, per NBC. "That's the definition of a rigged system." (Read more Michael Bloomberg stories.)

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