Feb. 19 (UPI) — Six Democratic presidential candidates, including Michael Bloomberg for the first time, will take the stage for a debate in Nevada on Wednesday ahead of the state’s caucuses this weekend.
The party’s ninth debate will begin at 9 p.m. EST at the Paris Las Vegas hotel and will be broadcast by NBC News and in Spanish on Universo and Noticias Telemundo.
The candidates who have qualified for the debate are Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Vice President Joe Biden and Bloomberg.
A lot of attention is expected to be focused on Bloomberg, the former Republican and New York City mayor who has surged in the polls recently after entering the race last fall. The billionaire has not accepted any public donations for his campaign, and made the debate field after the Democratic Party eliminated the donor criteria.
“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 Trump and unite the country,” Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said Tuesday.
Some of the other candidates in the field have acknowledged, and denounced, Bloomberg’s rise.
“It’s a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate,” Warren wrote on Twitter. “But at least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire.”
Wednesday’s debate comes ahead of the caucuses Saturday in Nevada, the third state to vote on the primary calendar. Early voting began last weekend and more than 11,000 ballots have been cast.
The debate also comes a day after Sanders’ campaign requested a recount of the Iowa caucuses after a recanvass showed that Buttigieg won by less than one-hundredth of a percent in state delegate equivalents but still won two more delegates.
After Iowa and New Hampshire, Buttigieg leads all candidates with 22 pledged delegates, followed by Sanders with 21, Warren with 8, Klobuchar with 7 and Biden with 6. Bloomberg has not won any delegates because he wasn’t on the ballot in either state.
Trump is set to hold a rally in Las Vegas on Friday, even though Nevada elected to cancel its Republican caucuses.
“The Republican Party is 100 percent behind the president of the United States in the state of Nevada,” said Michael McDonald, chairman of the state Republican Party. “I can speak to that without question. The enthusiasm is enormous.”