Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Nevada just got much more interesting. Tuesday morning, Mike Bloomberg received 19 percent in an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist national poll, qualifying him for the debate that will be held days before the Nevada caucuses.
The poll is the fourth since mid-January showing Bloomberg with at least 10 percent support nationally. That was enough to land him on the debate stage after the Democratic National Committee changed its rules to qualify, removing the requirement that candidates receive a certain number of donations to earn a spot.
Bloomberg qualifying for the debate “is the latest sign that Mike’s plan and ability to defeat Donald Trump is resonating with more Americans,” his campaign said.
But before he gets to take on Trump, Bloomberg will have to see his way through a hostile primary and Democratic rivals eager to engage with him on the debate stage. After months of running a campaign based almost entirely on spending lavishly on TV ads, Bloomberg will face his Democratic opponents face-to-face for the first time Wednesday.
On Sunday, Amy Klobuchar said getting Bloomberg to the debate would provide an essential opportunity for him to face questions about his record. “I don’t think you should be able to hide behind airwaves and huge ad buys,” she said. Other Democratic candidates previewed the attacks they’re likely to make against Bloomberg over the weekend. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders criticized him for trying to “buy” the election, while Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg pointed to Bloomberg’s history of sexist comments and support of stop-and-frisk.
Bloomberg will not come unprepared though. He told Reuters that he has some barbs at the ready:
When Michael Bloomberg steps onto the Democratic debate stage for the first time on Wednesday, he will be ready to dismiss rivals like Joe Biden, who as vice president made “speeches that somebody writes for him,” and Pete Buttigieg, “mayor of a town.”
Bloomberg’s Democratic rivals are no doubt hoping that facing tough questions for the first time in the primary will slow the billionaire’s ascent. In just two weeks, Bloomberg will appear on the ballot for the first time when primaries take place in Super Tuesday states, where he continues to climb in the polls. The latest, out of Virginia, shows Bloomberg tied with Sanders for first place.