Bloomberg qualifies for Democratic debate

Bloomberg supporters were serving up campaign talking points at the R&G restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown Tuesday, where Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy met with other Asian Americans hoping to win votes for the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg received a last minute boost Tuesday in a national poll that allowed him to qualify for the Democratic primary debate Wednesday in Nevada. It will be the first time he will be face-to-face with five other leading candidates: former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

The national NPR/PBS/Marist poll showed Bloomberg surging into second place behind Bernie Sanders, and edging out Joe Biden And Elizabeth Warren. 

In Virginia, a Super Tuesday primary state, a Monmouth University poll showed Bloomberg has gained ground to tie with Sanders at 22%. 

In North Carolina, another Super Tuesday state, Bloomberg tied Sanders in a survey by SurveyUSA.

Another survey in Oklahoma showed Bloomberg leading Sanders among Democrats surveyed.

Some feel Bloomberg, a billionaire and a former Republican, has the best chance of beating President Trump in November, by appealing to independents and moderates in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

"He's polling number one in Florida in my home state and it's because people see him as a proven executive, somebody who was a successful mayor," said Rep. Murphy, a Democrat who represents Congressional District 7 in the Orlando area. 

The Bloomberg campaign also addressed attacks on Bloomberg as a billionaire who is buying his way into the race with 

"Mike was an Eagle Scout who grew up in a middle-class family and he built his global business without any loans from his parents," said Rep. Murphy.

The other Democratic candidates in the narrowing field were quick to respond to Bloomberg's rising poll numbers and are likely to focus on Bloomberg Wednesday.

In a town hall Tuesday night, Senator Amy Klobuchar said she couldn't beat Bloomberg in paid ads but could beat him on the debate stage.

Biden and Buttigieg will also be fighting Bloomberg and Klobuchar for the same moderate votes.

Senator Warren who slipped in the polls stated on Twitter Tuesday, "It’s a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate. But at least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire."

Front-runner Bernie Sanders, who hopes to out-run Warren to capture the progressive wing of the party criticized Bloomberg Monday at a rally in Washington State, "You have a record in New York City that included racist policies like 'Stop and Frisk."

Bloomberg supporters say they are optimistic Bloomberg will do well in the debate.

"As it relates to stop and frisk, he has apologized for not recognizing the negative impact it was having on communities of color and I think it is a sign of a good leader that he is able to acknowledge when there has been a mistake," said Rep. Murphy. 

Billionaire San Francisco philanthropist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard remain in the race, though neither qualified for Wednesday's debate. 

Early voting in Nevada ended Tuesday as the state prepares for its caucus on Saturday February 22.

Super Tuesday will be March 3rd when 14 states will hold their primaries and caucuses, as well as American Samoa and Democrats living abroad. Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.