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Politics: Bloomberg's presence expected to spice up tonight's Democratic debate - updates

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price to resign after caucus chaos

  Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price to resign after caucus chaos More than a week after the Iowa caucuses, Democrats still do not have a final tally of the results. A recanvass will start Sunday and a recount may follow."While it is my desire to stay in this role and see this process through to completion, I do believe it is time for the Iowa Democratic Party to begin looking forward, and my presence in my current role makes that more difficult. Therefore, I will resign as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party effective upon the election of my replacement," Price said in a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party's State Central Committee.

The Democratic candidates for president take the stage in Las Vegas for the latest debate. Follow along with our live blog.

a view of a city with tall buildings in the background: Trump International Hotel is seen in the distance as the Democratic Presidential Debate hosted by NBC News and MSNBC with The Nevada Independent is advertised on a screen on The Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 19, 2020. - Democrat rival presidential hopefuls will meet on the Democratic debate stage on February 19 in Las Vegas ahead of the Nevada Caucus on February 22. © BRIDGET BENNETT, AFP via Getty Images Trump International Hotel is seen in the distance as the Democratic Presidential Debate hosted by NBC News and MSNBC with The Nevada Independent is advertised on a screen on The Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 19, 2020. - Democrat rival presidential hopefuls will meet on the Democratic debate stage on February 19 in Las Vegas ahead of the Nevada Caucus on February 22.

Expect to hear more about Medicare for All

While there’s been no shortage of discussion about health care in the previous eight Democratic debates, expect it to come up again tonight.

Mike Bloomberg for years has battled women’s allegations of profane, sexist comments

  Mike Bloomberg for years has battled women’s allegations of profane, sexist comments He denies charges about his workplace conduct but won’t release a woman who sued him from a confidentiality agreement.

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That’s because Medicare for All may be the best chance the center-left Democrats have of slowing Bernie Sanders’ momentum in Nevada.

Sanders’ costly and controversial plan worries the powerful Culinary Union, the state’s largest labor organization. The union fears workers would have to give up their hard-fought health care benefits for coverage that might not be as good.

Learn more about the candidates

The union has circulated flyers saying Medicare for All would “end Culinary Healthcare” but chose not to endorse any of the candidates who offer an alternative approach.

Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden will likely look for opportunities on stage to criticize Sanders’ plan and plug their proposals to improve health care coverage.

As his first debate nears, Bloomberg is having to answer about his past

  As his first debate nears, Bloomberg is having to answer about his past This is not the gracious welcome billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg has come to expect from prominent Democrats. No, the former New York mayor’s debut in the top tier of the presidential race has turned brutal.

Expect Sanders to argue that Medicare for All would help unions by taking health care off the table during contract negotiations.

Meanwhile, a group comprised of major drugmakers, insurance companies and private hospitals, is saying a pox on both your houses.

Partnership for America’s Health Care Future launched a new ad around the debate that criticizes the approaches of both Sanders’ and the more moderate Democrats.  The ad says the proposals would result in higher taxes and lower-quality care.

- Maureen Groppe

Biden slips further in polls and among oddsmakers

Hours before the debate in Las Vegas, a new national poll is cutting into Joe Biden’s core argument that his electability and broad appeal makes him the Democratic presidential nominee best suited to defeat Donald Trump.

The former vice president’s support among “Democratic-leaning” registered voters dropped from 32% in the same Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in January to 16% in the poll released Wednesday. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders now leads with 32% (up 9 points from January), with former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg (14%) and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (12%) nipping at Biden’s heels.

Bloomberg in fray as Democrats trade non-stop attacks at most contentious debate

  Bloomberg in fray as Democrats trade non-stop attacks at most contentious debate The fireworks featured the harshest broadsides of any of the candidates' face offs.LAS VEGAS — The Democratic presidential debate Wednesday night kicked off with fireworks, as every person on stage not named Mike Bloomberg attacked the former New York City mayor, who was participating in his first presidential face off.

The poll was conducted from Feb. 14-17 of 408 Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

One Oddsmaker doesn’t think much of Biden’s chances to win the nomination either.

Bovada, an online sports gambling site, puts his odds at +775, meaning someone who bets $100 on the former vice president to win the nomination would receive a payout of $775. On Jan. 1, Biden was the favorite at +200.

Sanders is now the favorite at +125, (he was +350 on Jan. 1) with Bloomberg close behind at +200. Warren has plummeted from +450 to +6600, well behind 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton who comes in at +2000, the same as Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Although Biden is not expected to do very well in Saturday’s Nevada Caucuses, one poll shows him leading the Feb. 29 South Carolina primary where he has invested time and resources truing to woo the state’s racially diverse electorate.

The poll, released by the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion, found that 23% of likely voters in South Carolina’s Democratic primary support Biden compared to 21 percent for Sanders. Billionaire Tom Steyer, who will not be on Wednesday’s debate stage, is third with 13%.

Bloomberg: Trump was the 'real winner' of Las Vegas debate

  Bloomberg: Trump was the 'real winner' of Las Vegas debate Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg said on Thursday that President Trump was the "real winner" of Wednesday's Democratic debate, pointing to what he said was Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) inability to defeat Trump in November. "So how was your night last night?" Bloomberg asked supporters at an organizing event in Salt Lake City. "Look, the real winner in the debate last night was Donald Trump because I worry that we may be on the way to nominating somebody who cannot win in November," the former New York City mayor said. "If we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base like Senator Sanders, it will be a fatal error.

The poll of 400 voters has an adjusted margin of error of plus or minus 7.5 percent.

- Ledyard King

'2020 The Musical'

LAS VEGAS –  Hours before the Democratic debate will unfold in a nearby Strip theater, Carol Dunitz stood outside Paris Las Vegas dressed like Uncle Sam.

She toted a sign with a message for passing tourists to see: “Dump the Trump in 2020.”

An Ann Arbor, Michigan, native with a doctorate in speech and theatre, Dunitz is the writer of “2020 The Musical,” a collection of 20 show tunes about dissecting political topics of the times: Global warming, reproductive rights and criminal justice reform among them.

Dunitz travels to all Democratic debates, promoting her musical and talking politics with anyone who cares to chat.

“Bloomberg or Sanders,” Dunitz said of her candidates, though her choice often changes.

Former New York City mayor has a chance, because “he’s more centrist,” Dunitz said. “That’s why the powers that be like him.”

- Ed Komenda

Se Habla Español

While many candidates are running Spanish language ads in Nevada it’s unlikely you’ll hear much Spanish on stage tonight.

Pete Buttigieg is the only candidate left who speaks Spanish.

The first candidate to speak Spanish at a debate was former Rep. Beto O’Rourke who, at the first debate last June, answered a question about tax rates in Spanish. Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker also threw in some Spanish that night. Booker’s best bilingual performance came in September when he was asked whether more Americans should follow his vegan diet.

Democrats big money pledges give way to reality of 2020 race

  Democrats big money pledges give way to reality of 2020 race Many Democratic presidential candidates launched their campaigns last year with bold pledges to reject help from super PACs and dark money groups. But as the realities of a tough primary fight sink in, those promises are fading away. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden during a Democratic presidential primary debate on Feb. 19, in Las Vegas.

“First of all, I want to say, `no,’” Booker responded. “Actually, I want to translate that into Spanish. `No.’”

One of Buttigieg’s Nevada ads translates the phonetic pronunciation of his name – Boot-edge-edge – into Spanish: But-ech-ech.

Buttigieg’s uncommon last name is Maltese and his Nevada ads emphasize that he is the son of an immigrant.

Likewise, Bernie Sanders, whose father immigrated from Europe, reminds voters of his immigrant roots in one of his Nevada ads.

About three in ten Nevadans are Latinos and nearly two in ten residents are foreign-born, according to the U.S. Census.

- Maureen Groppe

Get ready for attacks on Bloomberg

There appears to be no shortage of beefs that other Democratic candidates have with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Let’s start with the fact that Bloomberg didn’t become a Democrat until 2018.

“I don’t endorse Republicans,” former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted Wednesday in response to a Bloomberg video showing Biden’s past praise for the former mayor.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren last week said Bloomberg “should not be the leader of our party” because of comments he made in 2008 about the financial crisis. Bloomberg said the crisis was started because banks were pressured to end the discriminatory housing practice known as “redlining.”

Warren and other Democrats have also accused Bloomberg of trying to buy the nomination through the unprecedented hundreds of millions of dollars he’s already spent. And she’s charged him with overseeing, as mayor, “a program that surveilled and tracked Muslim communities in mosques, restaurants, and even college campuses.”

Analysis: Sanders learns what it's like to be a front-runner

  Analysis: Sanders learns what it's like to be a front-runner CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Bernie Sanders has spent much of his career on the political margins, an outsider looking in. © Provided by Associated Press Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C., co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Now, the protest politician is learning what it’s like to be the front-runner for a major political party.

Shortly before the debate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders circulated a video of comments Bloomberg made in 2012 about decreasing benefits or raising the eligibility age of Medicare and Social Security.

“Let’s have some austerity for billionaires,” Sanders says at the end of the video.

Bloomberg, in his first appearance on the debate stage, could also get asked about:

  • His refusal to release women from confidentiality agreements they’ve signed relating to allegations of a hostile work environment at his company;
  • His past descriptions of transgender people as “he, she, or it” and dress-wearing men who enter girls’ locker rooms.
  • His past support for the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police strategy.

But Bloomberg isn’t shying from battle. His campaign has circulated a video criticizing the harassing “energy” of some of Sanders’ supporters. His aides are also warning that it’s almost too late for Democrats to coalesce behind an alternative to Sanders to stop him from getting the nomination.

- Maureen Groppe

As debate stage gets older, candidates tangle over health

Questions about age and health generally have rumbled below the surface as the candidates vie for the Democratic presidential nomination. Even when Bernie Sanders, 78, suffered a heart attack in October, his quick return to the campaign trail quieted any public concerns.

But when asked Tuesday during a CNN town hall whether he would provide more of his medical records, the Vermont senator demurred.

“I think we have released a detailed medical report, and I’m comfortable on what we have done," he told moderator Anderson Cooper.

Wednesday’s debate crew is not only smaller (seven candidates in the last one versus six) and less ethnically diverse (no minorities this time) but older as well.

Gone are entrepreneur Andrew Yang, 45, and businessman Tom Steyer, 62. Arriving is former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, 78. That means four of the six candidates on stage (Bloomberg, Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren) will be at least 70.

Frontrunner Bernie Sanders takes brunt of attacks during Democratic debate ahead of South Carolina primary

  Frontrunner Bernie Sanders takes brunt of attacks during Democratic debate ahead of South Carolina primary The frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination took fire on the South Carolina debate stage from his rivals on a number of frontsBernie Sanders felt the burn during Tuesday’s debate.

On Wednesday, Sanders' national press secretary, Briahna Gray, told CNN that questions about the Vermont senator’s health were "reminiscent" of those raised about other candidates, "questioning where they're from, aspects of their lineage, etc."

"None of the same concern is being demonstrated for Michael Bloomberg, who's the same age as Bernie Sanders, who's suffered heart attacks in the past," she said.

In a statement, Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said it was an "absolute lie that Mike had heart attacks" and called Gray's claim "completely false."

Sheekey said Bloomberg, 78, had two coronary stents placed in 2000 after a positive stress test. Bloomberg released a letter from his doctor Stephen Sisson in December saying he was in "outstanding health" and in "great physical shape."

"There are no medical concerns, present or looming, that would prevent him from serving as President of the United States," Sisson wrote.

In a Twitter post Wednesday, Gray said she "misspoke" about Bloomberg having a heart attack and said Bloomberg "underwent the same stent procedure as Bernie."

Bloomberg's heart procedure was a preventive measure, whereas Sanders' was conducted after the candidate had a heart attack.

- Ledyard King and Nicolas Wu

Democrats set to debate for ninth time but with one new face

WASHINGTON – Five familiar faces and one new one take the Democratic debate stage tonight in Las Vegas.

That should generate a lot of fireworks as the returning candidates, who feel like they've been put through the paces from the past eight debates and months of campaigning, get their first chance to test former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Bloomberg is making his first appearance, despite the fact that he is not on the ballot in Nevada, which caucuses Saturday.

But while Bloomberg is skipping the first four states to vote in Democrats' presidential nominating contest, he is spending heavily across the country.

That earned him enough support in polls to qualify for the debate after the Democratic National Committee last month changed the entry rules that had included donor requirements. Bloomberg, who has already spent more on advertising than President Barack Obama spent on ads during his entire 2012 re-election campaign, is self-funding his bid.

The next-richest Democrat in the contest, activist Tom Steyer, will not be in the debate. He failed to win at least one delegate in Iowa or New Hampshire or show support of 10 percent or more in four qualifying polls. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii also did not qualify.

The candidates getting their first chance to spar with Bloomberg are Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

The two-hour debate begins at 9 p.m. ET.

There are five moderators: NBC anchor Lester Holt, "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson, Noticias Telemundo Senior Correspondent Vanessa Hauc and Jon Ralston of The Nevada Independent.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bloomberg's presence expected to spice up tonight's Democratic debate - updates

Frontrunner Bernie Sanders takes brunt of attacks during Democratic debate ahead of South Carolina primary .
The frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination took fire on the South Carolina debate stage from his rivals on a number of frontsBernie Sanders felt the burn during Tuesday’s debate.

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