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  • Writer's picturejohn kepler

The Bloomberg factor! Can he catch Bernie Sanders?

Michael Bloomberg will make his first appearance in a televised Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday, giving voters their first glimpse of how the New York billionaire will fare face to face with rivals including Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. 

Mr Bloomberg, a former Republican now running for president as a Democrat, qualified for the debate in Las Vegas after a new national poll showed him in second place behind Mr Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist. The two men will be joined on stage by Mr Biden, former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar.  Mr Bloomberg qualified for the debate after an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released on Tuesday showed him claiming the support of 19 per cent of Democratic voters nationwide, trailing Mr Sanders, who polled at 31 per cent. Mr Biden came in third with 15 per cent of the vote, Ms Warren was at 12 per cent, Ms Klobuchar had 9 per cent support and Mr Buttigieg was at 8 per cent. Mr Bloomberg’s advisers were bullish after the polling figures were published, telling reporters that November’s presidential election was coming down to a three-way race among Mr Bloomberg, Mr Sanders and Donald Trump. “We are really down to a race where there are three people left who could really be considered viable to be sworn into office next year, and that’s Bernie Sanders, Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump,” Dan Kanninen, the campaign’s states director, said. He added that Mr Bloomberg had an “unmatched” ground operation of campaign staffers. The Nevada debate takes place three days before the state’s Democratic caucuses. Thousands of Nevadans have already participated in early voting since the weekend. Mr Bloomberg, however, will not be on the ballot in Nevada, having sat out early voting states including Iowa and New Hampshire — where Mr Buttigieg and Mr Sanders came out on top, respectively — to focus his formidable financial firepower on “Super Tuesday” on March 3, when more than a dozen states, including California and Texas, will hold primaries or caucuses. Mr Bloomberg will also be absent from the ballot in South Carolina, where a primary will be held on February 29. Mr Bloomberg’s presence on Wednesday’s debate stage will nevertheless inject a new element into a still-crowded Democratic field. The former New York City mayor is likely to be the focal point of attacks from many of his Democratic rivals, who have regularly berated him on the campaign trail for trying to buy the nomination. Mr Trump has also sparred with Mr Bloomberg on Twitter, where he calls the former mayor “Mini Mike”. The president said in a tweet on Tuesday: “What Mini Mike is doing is nothing less than a large scale illegal campaign contribution. He is ‘spreading’ money all over the place, only to have recipients of his cash payments, many former opponents, happily joining or supporting his campaign. Isn’t that called a pay-off?” Mr Bloomberg did not qualify for previous televised debates because the Democratic National Committee had rules that required participants to have received campaign contributions from a certain number of individual donors. Mr Bloomberg has said that he will not take outside donations and will fund his campaign completely on his own. However, the DNC changed the rules last month to allow candidates to qualify if they achieved at least 10 per cent support in at least four national polls, in an apparent effort to allow Mr Bloomberg to participate.



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