Six candidates will participate in Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential candidate debate in Nevada, but a lot of eyes surely will be on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will take the debate stage for the first time.
The Democratic National Committee eliminated donor requirements for this debate, something that has kept Bloomberg out of previous debates, as he does not accept donor money.
Bloomberg will be on stage, along with former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and billionaire Tom Steyer haven’t dropped out of the race, but neither qualified for Wednesday night’s debate because they failed to meet polling thresholds.
Here are three key questions heading into the debate, all related to Bloomberg:
1.) How will Bloomberg present himself on stage?
Bloomberg declared his candidacy in November, which was late in the process, but has shot up the polls, thanks to an aggressive advertising campaign. His ads are on TV seemingly every minute, presenting his case to voters, but this will be a different element. His demeanor and how he presents his ideas and vision live in front of millions will be something to watch.
2.) How much of a target will Bloomberg be?
Given his rapid rise in polls and increased popularity, he likely will be a big one. Look for frequent attacks directed at Bloomberg from the other candidates on stage, who have all participated in the previous debates and might try to use that comfort level to their advantage.
3.) Just where does Bloomberg stand headed into the debate?
Some have pegged Sanders as the favorite to win the nomination, after he saw strong showings in the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary.
As of Wednesday, Sanders leads the way in three different national polls, with Biden in second in all three. However, the hard-charging Bloomberg has moved to third in each poll, and a good showing at the debate could see him ascend further.