Bloomberg qualifies for South Carolina primary debate

Bloomberg qualifies for South Carolina primary debate
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Mike Bloomberg has qualified for next week’s primary debate in South Carolina after a survey released Tuesday afternoon put the former New York City mayor over the event’s polling threshold.

Bloomberg qualified for the debate, which will take place Feb. 25 in Charleston, after an NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll showed him with 14 percent support.

To qualify for the South Carolina stage, candidates must reach 10 percent in four polls approved by the DNC or 12 percent in South Carolina-specific polls. The polls must have been released between Feb. 4, the day after Iowa’s caucuses, and Feb. 24.

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Candidates can also qualify by winning at least one delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada, though Bloomberg is not contesting any of those states.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Biden to host 'virtual fireside chat' with donors Esper faces tough questions on dismissal of aircraft carrier's commander MORE, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg launches new PAC to aid down-ballot candidates HuffPost political reporter on why Bernie fell way behind Biden Economists fear slow pace of testing will prolong recession MORE and Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharWhy Gretchen Whitmer's stock is rising with Team Biden Biden says his administration could help grow 'bench' for Democrats Democrats fear coronavirus impact on November turnout MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Cuomo's been good, but he's not going to be the Democratic nominee Does Joe Biden really want to be president? MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMomentum grows to change medical supply chain from China Why Gretchen Whitmer's stock is rising with Team Biden Democrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog MORE (D-Mass.) have all already qualified for the event. 

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill seeking confirmation that Bloomberg was the sixth candidate to make the Charleston stage.

The South Carolina debate is the second event Bloomberg qualified for Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the former mayor hit the polling threshold for Wednesday’s debate in Nevada just before the qualification deadline.

“Mike 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 TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' MORE and unite the country," Bloomberg's campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, said in a statement regarding the Nevada event. "The opportunity to discuss his workable and achievable plans for the challenges facing this country is an important part of the campaign process."

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Bloomberg, who is completely self-funding his campaign, had not qualified for past debates that included a donor threshold. He has instead relied on a nationwide ad blitz backed by hundreds of millions of his own dollars to fuel the polling surge that helped him qualify for two different debates in one day.

Bloomberg has borne the brunt of a litany of recent attacks from several 2020 Democrats, with many accusing him of using his personal wealth to “buy” the party’s presidential nomination. Some contenders have also accused the DNC of changing the rules by dropping the donor qualification to help Bloomberg qualify for the debates.

"That is what being a multibillionaire is about. Some very good friends of mine who were competing in the Democratic nomination — people like Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerEnlisting tech to fight coronavirus sparks surveillance fears Democrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus MORE of New Jersey, Julián Castro — work really, really hard. Nobody changed the rules to get them in the debate,” Sanders said Saturday.

However, some candidates have expressed eagerness to meet Bloomberg on a debate stage. While several say they are at an advertising disadvantage since they don’t have Bloomberg’s personal wealth, many contend that meeting on the debate stage would help level the playing field. 

“I know that I'm not going to be able to beat him on the airwaves,” Klobuchar said last week, “but I can beat him on the debate stage.”