Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas is likely to include a lot of attacks by candidates against former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, but there is still the chance Bloomberg won't be there to defend himself or to fire back.
Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. EST is the deadline to qualify and, as of early Tuesday morning, Bloomberg had not yet met the requirements. To qualify, a candidate must receive 10% or more support in at least four Democratic National Committee-approved polls or 12% or higher in approved Nevada and/or South Carolina polls. Candidates who have at least one pledged national delegate in primaries or caucuses will also qualify.
A Politico tracker finds that Bloomberg has passed 10% in three approved polls. He's earned no national delegates.
The Hill reports some are questioning whether it's in Bloomberg's best interest to take part in the debate -- should he qualify -- considering he isn't even on the ballot. His name will not appear until March 3 when the Super Tuesday states vote. A spokesperson for Bloomberg told The Hill that he will be at the debate if he qualifies.
Other Democratic candidates have criticized Bloomberg for, they claim, trying to buy the election -- a sign of how seriously they are taking him. Bloomberg, who is worth an estimated $62 billion according to Forbes, has spent a reported $350 million on his campaign. But he hasn't taken part in a debate. His message is getting out via personal appearances, digital and social media, and an onslaught of television ads aimed squarely at President Donald Trump.
Most polls have Bloomberg in third nationally behind Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Former mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sanders are in Wednesday's debate via the delegate and polling thresholds. Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are in based on polling. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is in based on delegates she won for finishing third in New Hampshire, but has qualified in only one poll.
Billionaire Tom Steyer, who has appeared in all but the first two debates, has reached 10% in one poll, He is unlikely to qualify for Wednesday.
The qualification rules for the Feb. 25 debate in South Carolina are nearly identical, with each candidate who has earned one national delegate qualifying. The only difference is a candidate must receive 10% or more support in at least four DNC-approved polls or 12% or higher in approved South Carolina polls. The deadline is Feb. 24.
The debate after South Carolina will happen March 15 in Phoenix and hosted by CNN and Univision. That comes two days before primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio. Qualification criteria has yet to be announced.