Democratic presidential candidates debate climate-change policy and fracking

Democratic candidates take the stage for the ninth primary debate of the 2020 presidential election, this one in Nevada. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg makes his debate debut, as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders takes the lead in the polls.

Just three days before the crucial Nevada caucuses, Democratic candidates took the stage in a contentious debate, firing off rounds of attacks on newcomer Mike Bloomberg.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former New York Mayor Bloomberg spent two hours Wednesday night duking it out at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

It was the ninth overall debate – and the most pugnacious. But it was the first that featured Bloomberg, who doesn’t take campaign contributions and did not qualify for previous ones because he didn’t meet donor thresholds.

The debate opened with Warren and Sanders, who have built their campaigns around the promise to reduce wealth inequality, throwing jabs at Bloomberg, who has spent about $400 million of his personal fortune on campaign ads. since joining the race in late November. Despite his presence at the Nevada debate, Bloomberg is not on a ballot until Super Tuesday March 3.

Sanders maintains a lead in national polls and held a 19-point edge in Nevada, according to a survey released Monday. The Nevada caucuses could present an opportunity for Biden, who maintained the lead for months, to bounce back against Sanders.

However, Biden, the former front-runner, came across as mostly an afterthought in Wednesday’s debate. He is at risk of underperforming in Nevada on Saturday and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, after he flopped in Iowa and New Hampshire.