23:35 GMT06 April 2020
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    Billionaire Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg will be joining the other candidates on the debate stage as he has qualified for the forum with the release of a new NPR–PBS NewsHour–Marist poll.

    Bloomberg did not qualify for the previous debates, which required him to meet a donor threshold, as the billionaire is self-funding his own campaign. The Democratic National Committee in January eliminated the donor requirement so Bloomberg is now allowed to participate in debates. The rules now state that in order to qualify, candidates must clear at least 10 percent in four national-level polls or 12 percent in two single-state polls; alternatively, candidates can also participate if they have won at least one delegate in either the Iowa or New Hampshire contests. 

    “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's campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, said in a statement. "The opportunity to discuss his workable and achievable plans for the challenges facing this country is an important part of the campaign process."

    The poll showed Bloomberg right behind front-runner Bernie Sanders, who has 31 percent support. Bloomberg with 19 percent is second while ex-Vice President Joe Biden, who was once considered the frontrunner, is third with 15 percent support. Senator Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) trailed in fourth place at 12 percent while Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) came in fifth place with 9 percent support, and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounded out the top six at 8 percent support.

    Klobuchar said last week Bloomberg should participate in the debates.  

    "I am also an advocate for him coming on the debate stage. I know that I'm not going to be able to beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage," she said.

    Sanders, who was in a verbal confrontation with Bloomberg’s campaign earlier this week, said that the former New York mayor shouldn’t be joining the debates.

    "That is what being a multi-billionaire is about. Some very good friends of mine who were competing in the Democratic nomination — people like Cory Booker of New Jersey, Julián Castro — work really, really hard. Nobody changed the rules to get them in the debate,” Sanders said.


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