Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will appear in a Democratic presidential debate for the first time when the candidates take the stage in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday night.
The billionaire qualified for the debate at the last minute after gaining enough support, breaking into double digits in four national polls to make the cut.
In an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey, Bloomberg moved ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden, putting him in second place behind Sen. Bernie Sanders.
- That national poll lists Sanders with 31 percent of support, up from 22 percent in December.
- It shows Bloomberg spiking up to 19 percent from just 4 percent in December.
- It shows former Vice President Joe Biden with 15 percent of support, dropping 9 points since December.
Even though he hasn't been officially running in the Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada contests, Bloomberg has already spent more than $400 million on advertising with the aim of making a big splash on Super Tuesday.
The socialist Sanders blasted the billionaire for spending so much money, saying, "He thinks he can buy this election. Well, I got news for Mr. Bloomberg, and that is the American people are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections."
"So today we say to those billionaires who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to support candidates who represent the rich and the powerful, today we say to Mayor Bloomberg, we are a democracy, not an oligarchy. You're not going to buy this election," Sanders said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will likely be happy to have Bloomberg in the Las Vegas debate after saying recently, "I can't beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage."
Meanwhile, the Drudge Report said this weekend that Bloomberg was considering Hillary Clinton as a running mate - a report that the Bloomberg campaign did not confirm nor deny.
Now he's facing growing criticism from other Democratic presidential candidates, as well as questions based on past remarks over women, minorities and other issues.
Right now, Sanders has a solid lead in Nevada heading into the state's caucus vote. The Nevada caucus takes place Feb. 22, followed by the South Carolina Democratic primaries on Feb. 29.
The biggest event for Democrats comes on Super Tuesday, March 3, with primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.