A rising Bloomberg qualifies for US Democratic debate

Washington: US media tycoon Michael Bloomberg has qualified for Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, after a new poll shows him leapfrogging several of his rivals, including Joe Biden, to claim second spot in the race for the party nomination.

Bloomberg’s surge meant that he cleared a polling threshold set by the Democratic National Committee, placing the former New York mayor on stage to spar with fellow candidates, several of whom have launched broadsides against him, for the first time.

The billionaire businessman who only jumped into the race in November, nearly a year after many of his rivals, earned 19 percent support nationally, second to leftist Bernie Sanders at 31 percent, in an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey.

The moderate former vice president Biden came in third at 15 percent in the poll of some 1,400 registered voters, while progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren was at 12 percent and pragmatist Senator Amy Klobuchar at nine percent.

“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,” the Bloomberg campaign said Tuesday 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 78-year-old Bloomberg, seen as a centrist, has been rising in the polls as he spends hundreds of millions of dollars of his vast personal fortune to blanket the airwaves with campaign ads. – AFP