Washington, 19 February 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has qualified to participate in the upcoming Democratic Party presidential nominee debate set for Wednesday.
Bloomberg met the polling threshold, after a poll by broadcasters NPR and PBS showed him with 19 percent support nationally among party partisans, well ahead of the still-crowded Democratic field.
He is trailing left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders, who is in first place with 31 percent.
Bloomberg has avoided close scrutiny by skipping the early primary states and only starting to participate in elections on Super Tuesday, in early March.
However, as he has risen in the polls, his record has come under a magnifying glass.
Bloomberg is under fire for alleged sexist remarks and policies at his financial data firm, as well as for his stop-and-frisk policy as mayor, which critics say was racist and allowed police to discriminate against blacks and Latinos.
The former mayor is also spending hundreds of millions of dollars of his own fortune, largely on advertisements, drawing accusations from Sanders’ team that Bloomberg is trying to buy an election.
The attacks on Bloomberg spending upwards of 400 million dollars so far, according to an analysis by Kantar Media published in US media outlets, are coming not only from the left but from President Donald Trump.
“What Mini Mike is doing is nothing less than a large scale illegal campaign contribution,” Trump charged on Twitter, using his go-to pejorative for the former mayor.
“Mini Mike, Major Party Nominations are not for sale!”
Trump accused Bloomberg of trying to hurt Sanders. While Trump often bashes Sanders as a socialist, he also tries to appeal to elements of the left-winger’s base which feel that the Democratic Party establishment has favored other candidates and policies.
“We are not for sale,” Nina Turner, the co-chair of the Sanders campaign told cheering supporters at a recent rally, slamming Bloomberg.
Sanders himself has tweeted a photo of Bloomberg being friendly with Trump, as he tries to tie together the two New York billionaires.
It remains to be seen how Bloomberg will respond at the upcoming debate, though he may say that he is doing whatever is needed to defeat Trump and that by using his own funds, he is not beholden to special interests.
He recently apologized for stop-and-frisk.
Bloomberg is also already launching ads going after Sanders’ online supporters, who have developed a reputation for a no-holds-barred attitude on social media that critics say amounts to bullying.
Former US vice president Joe Biden, who is also vying for the moderate lane, is showing further signs of slipping, coming in third in the latest poll, at 15 percent.
Progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren is in fourth, while former mayor Pete Buttigieg, who performed well in Iowa and New Hampshire, is at just 8 percent.
Sanders is coming under targeted attack from Bloomberg, as the two camps within the party vie for primacy.
The former mayor has strong appeal among older voters, while Sanders is leading among youth.