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 BidenBiden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Tammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream Mexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump MORE, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg's new book, 'Trust,' slated for October release Biden hires top aides for Pennsylvania Democratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights MORE and Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 Hillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersTammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream On The Money: Deficit rises to record .7 trillion amid pandemic: CBO | Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending | House panel advances spending bill with funding boost to IRS Biden-Sanders unity task force calls for Fed, US Postal Service consumer banking MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Progressive activist Ady Barkan endorses Biden, urges him to pick Warren as VP Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits 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 TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad 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 BookerData shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew 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.”