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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 BloombergHolder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ The truth behind companies' 'net zero' climate commitments The strategy Biden needs to pass his infrastructure plan 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 SandersOvernight Energy: Treasury creates hub to fight climate change through finance | Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' | Don't attack Zoom for its Bernie Sanders federal tax bill Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' MORE (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWorld passes 3 million coronavirus deaths Poll: 56 percent say wealth tax is part of solution to inequality Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents MORE (D-Mass.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden looks to bolster long-term research and development White House says gas tax won't be part of infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharJimmy Carter remembers Mondale as 'best vice president in our country's history' Hillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI Democrats push Twitter, Facebook to remove vaccine 'disinformation dozen' MORE (D-Minn.) and businessman Tom SteyerTom SteyerCalifornia Democrats weigh their recall options Why we should be leery of companies entering political fray Steyer says he has 'no plans' to run for public office again 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 TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict 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 YangYang expands lead in NYC mayor race: poll Evelyn Yang pens children's book on sexual abuse, reveals she was sexually assaulted as a child Yang pitches plan to revive Broadway, live performances in New York MORE and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardNew co-chairs named for congressional caucus for millennials Tulsi Gabbard blasts new House rules on gender neutral language as 'height of hypocrisy' A vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 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.