DNC drops donor requirement for debates, opening door for Bloomberg

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Friday eliminated a fundraising requirement to qualify for the February debate in Las Vegas, potentially paving the way for former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergSix months in, two challenges could define Biden's presidency Why Democrats' .5 trillion reconciliation bill is a losing game Democrats must win big on health care to have a shot in the midterms MORE to make the stage for the first time.

Under the new criteria, candidates can meet either a delegates threshold or a polling threshold to qualify for the Feb. 19 debate in Las Vegas, just three days before the Nevada caucuses.

Specifically, candidates must have been allocated at least one pledged delegate at the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary.

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Candidates can also qualify by reaching 10 percent support in at least four national polls or surveys of South Carolina and Nevada released between Jan. 15 and Feb. 18.

Alternatively, a candidate can qualify for the debate by reaching 12 percent support in two sanctioned national or early-state surveys. 

Only six candidates qualified for the previous debate in Des Moines: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden Democrats brace for slog on Biden's spending plan To break the corporate tax logjam, tax overinflated CEO pay MORE (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden For families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate confirms Biden's Air Force secretary Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Will Pence primary Trump — and win? MORE (D-Mass.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegChasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharBiden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Competition laws could be a death knell for startup mergers and acquisitions MORE (D-Minn.) and businessman Tom SteyerTom SteyerOvernight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline Six things to watch as California heads for recall election MORE.

Bloomberg has been self-funding his campaign and has failed to reach the fundraising thresholds for previous debates. 

But now with fundraising barrier removed, Bloomberg might join Democrats on stage for the first time.

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“We are thrilled that voters could soon have the chance to see Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage, hear his vision for the country, and see why he is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE and bring our country together," Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement.

“Mike has run for office three times and never taken a dime from special interests, allowing him to act independently, on the merits, without having to do what donors expect. He is proud to be doing the same with this campaign,” Sheekey added.

The former New York City mayor’s strategy of blanketing the airwaves with hundreds of millions of dollars has boosted him into double-digits in some recent national surveys, even though he's not running in any of the early-voting states and is therefore unlikely to accumulate any delegates in Iowa or New Hampshire. 

However, the higher polling thresholds could make it very difficult for several candidates going forward, unless they build momentum after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. 

Businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Kings launch voting rights effort honoring John Lewis Eric Adams to meet with Biden on curbing gun violence MORE and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard on Chicago mayor's decision to limit media interviews to people of color: 'Anti-white racism' Fox News says network and anchor Leland Vittert have 'parted ways' New co-chairs named for congressional caucus for millennials MORE (D-Hawaii) both failed to meet the polling requirements for the debate in Iowa last month.

The DNC's next debate is set for Friday in New Hampshire. Seven candidates are set to take part in that debate: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Steyer and Yang.

Updated at 3:46 p.m.