With Wednesday’s presidential primary debate in Nevada fast approaching, Mike Bloomberg remains one poll shy of making the state.
But, his campaign on Monday confirmed to Fox News that if he were to qualify, the former New York City mayor and billionaire business and media mogul will take part in the primetime showdown.
Bloomberg’s reached 10 percent or higher in three national polls that the Democratic National Committee has approved. He would need one more to make the stage, and would have until 11:59 p.m. ET Tuesday night to get that poll.
The two other ways to make the stage – reaching 12 percent or higher in two Nevada caucus or South Carolina primary-approved polls, or winning a delegate to the national convention in the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses or last week’s New Hampshire primary – have been out of picture for Bloomberg, since he’s not on the ballot in any of the early-voting states.
So far, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden have made the stage.
But, the other billionaire in the race – environmental and progressive advocate Tom Steyer – has failed to qualify. He has remained three national polls shy – or two Nevada or South Carolina polls short – of making the stage. And, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has been even further from meeting the thresholds.
Earlier this month, the DNC scrapped the individual donor threshold for candidates to qualify for the debate. Since Bloomberg has been self-funding his White House bid, he essentially had been shutout from making the stage. The move by the DNC – which opened the door to Bloomberg – sparked criticism from many of his rivals.
Bloomberg decided even before he launched his bid in late November to skip the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and instead invest hundreds of millions of his own money to compete in the delegate-rich Super Tuesday states holding contests on March 3 – and beyond.
Even though he’s not on the ballot in Nevada, being on the debate stage could benefit Bloomberg – with Super Tuesday less than two weeks away.
As he’s risen in national polls the past couple of weeks and as onetime-unrivaled front-runner Biden has slipped – Bloomberg’s come under increased fire from his rivals as well as President Trump’s re-campaign over past controversial comments in support of the stop-and-frisk policing he once oversaw during his tenure as New York City mayor. And, he’s also taken hits as more and more past remarks deemed sexist have been unearthed.
That’s led some political pundits to surmise that Bloomberg would be better off if he failed to qualify for Wednesday’s debate – thus avoiding direct contact with his rivals.
One longtime consultant for the Democrats, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, also pointed to Bloomberg’s lack of charisma.
“Bloomberg would be best served if he didn’t appear on the debate stage before Super Tuesday, because voters won’t see his bland personality and slow-to-respond debate reflexes,” the strategist noted.
Bloomberg – regardless of whether he qualifies for the debate or not – is scheduled to in neighboring Utah on Thursday evening – to hold a rally in Salt Lake City.
No letup in the Bloomberg-Sanders war of words
Sanders – in front of a crowd his campaign estimated was over 10,000 people at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, Calif., once again blasted Bloomberg.
“Mr. Bloomberg, like anybody else, has a right to run for president,” Sanders said. But, the populist senator who’s making his second straight White House run emphasized, “He does not have a right to buy the presidency, especially after being mayor of New York and having a racist stop-and-frisk policy.”
Hours earlier, Bloomberg’s campaign touted a new digital ad hitting Sanders supporters over some of their recent controversial rhetoric. The spot featured texts, tweets, and memes from people who appeared to be Sanders supporters attacking rivals for the nomination.
Bloomberg – in a tweet spotlighting the ad – wrote, “we need to unite to defeat Trump in November. This type of ‘energy’ is not going to get us there.”
Spanish-speaking voters have played an extremely influential role in Nevada’s presidential caucuses, and the Democrats’ campaigns have been stepping up their efforts to reach the electorate, with early caucus voting underway since Saturday.
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One of the latest examples: Warren’s campaign on Monday announced “Latinas Fight, Latinas Win” – or “Latinas en La Lucha” – to highlight the senator’s commitment to reach out to the community.
And, the Klobuchar campaign joined rivals in going up over the weekend with Spanish-language TV and radio ads.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares, Tara Prindiville, Alex Rego, and Andrew Craft contributed to this story