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Michael Bloomberg Surges in Poll and Qualifies for Democratic Debate in Las Vegas

Michael Bloomberg Surges in Poll and Qualifies for Democratic Debate in Las Vegas

WASHINGTON — Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York has qualified for Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas, the first time the billionaire will appear onstage alongside his Democratic presidential rivals.

A national poll from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist

Tom Steyer, the other billionaire seeking the Democratic nomination, has participated in the five most recent debates, but he is unlikely to be onstage in Las Vegas. He would need to receive 10 percent support in four national qualifying polls, or 12 percent in two polls taken in Nevada or South Carolina, before the deadline.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, the only other candidate still in the race, has not reached the threshold in any qualifying polls, either.

Candidates are also able to qualify for the Nevada and South Carolina debates by winning at least one delegate in the Iowa or New Hampshire contests; that is the path Ms. Klobuchar, followed to get her invitation to the stage in Las Vegas.

Mr. Bloomberg has spent over $300 million on TV advertising nationwide — more than the rest of the field combined. He decided to skip the first four nominating contests, held in states where campaigns traditionally spend a year organizing supporters, to focus instead on the delegate-rich primaries that take place beginning on Super Tuesday, March 3.

Mr. Bloomberg has seen his standing steadily rise in national polling as voters have been saturated by his television advertising. His rivals have been torn between attacking him and battling one another in the early-state contests.

Now Mr. Bloomberg is certain to be the target of onstage attacks from his rivals, especially Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, the two candidates who are not appearing at private fund-raisers and who have made cultivating the wrath of billionaires central to their campaigns.

Last week in Virginia, Ms. Warren told supporters that Mr. Bloomberg should not be the Democratic Party’s nominee because of his past remarks linking the end of redlining, a discriminatory housing practice, to the financial crisis.

Over the weekend other Democrats joined in. Mr. Sanders told a crowd in Carson City, Nev., that Americans were “sick and tired of billionaires buying elections.” Mr. Biden attacked Mr. Bloomberg’s record as mayor on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” And Ms. Klobuchar denounced Mr. Bloomberg for not sitting for as many interviews with the news media as she had.

Mr. Bloomberg, who has emerged in recent years as a leading financial benefactor for Democratic candidates and some liberal causes, such as gun control and environmental protection, entered politics as a Republican when he first ran for mayor in 2001. He endorsed President George W. Bush and spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention.

He has backed other Republicans as well, including Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who was ousted by Ms. Warren in 2012, and Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, a gun control ally, in 2016.

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