Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg will face off in a debate against his 2020 rivals for the first time after meeting the Democratic National Committee’s qualifications on Tuesday.
The former New York City mayor met the DNC’s requirements when he came in at 19 percent support nationally in a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey, his fourth national poll in which he received at or above 10 percent support. Bloomberg took second place behind Senator Bernie Sanders, who is polling well above other candidates at 31 percent support.
The DNC ruffled feathers when it changed the debate qualification requirements to open the door to Bloomberg, scrapping the grassroots campaign donations threshold, which Bloomberg did not meet since the billionaire is funding his campaign himself and not accepting donations.
“To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong,” said Jeff Weaver, a top Sanders adviser. “That’s the definition of a rigged system.”
“Bloomberg is spending an awful lot of money, but he has also not had his turn in the barrel,” Representative Cedric Richmond, co-chairman of the Biden campaign, said last week of Bloomberg’s absence from the televised debates so far.
Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said he 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. The opportunity to discuss his workable and achievable plans for the challenges facing this country is an important part of the campaign process.”
Other 2020 candidates are expected to target Bloomberg in their first opportunity to do so from the debate stage. Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former vice president Joe Biden, and former South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg have also qualified for the debate.
The next Democratic primary debate will take place on Wednesday in Las Vegas and will be hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, and The Nevada Independent.