Bloomberg says he won’t accept contributions to make the debates

Mark Niquette

Michael Bloomberg reaffirmed Thursday that he won’t be accepting contributions just to qualify for the Democratic presidential debates.

The Democratic National Committee has required candidates to have a certain number of individual donors to qualify for debates, and Bloomberg is self-funding his campaign. The DNC has said candidates could make the Feb. 7 debate in New Hampshire by winning at least one pledged delegate in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, but the former New York mayor is not competing in the early nominating contests.

“I always said I’d like to participate in the debates. But the rules are the rules, and it’s up to the Democratic Party to set those rules,” Bloomberg told reporters after a speech in Washington, according to The Hill.

In this Jan. 22, 2020 photo, Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the 'U.S. Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting in Washington.

Some Democrats who believe that Bloomberg is avoiding scrutiny by not participating in televised debates with other candidates are pushing the party to allow the billionaire on stage. Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a group that’s endorsed Elizabeth Warren, has said he’s proposed that the party add an exception for candidates who exceed some of the other criteria, such as doing very well in a number of recognized polls.

Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar told MSNBC this week that she would welcome Bloomberg to the debate stage.

“I’d be fine with him being on the debate stage because I think that instead of just putting your money out there, he’s actually got to be on the stage, and be able to go back and forth so that voters can evaluate him in that way,” Klobuchar said.

But Bloomberg has said he won’t accept even token $1 donations just to qualify for the debate stage because he’s never accepted contributions and doesn’t want the appearance he can be bought. He has said he made his fortune building a business that allows him to spend money on the race and issues he cares about, and that his rivals had the same opportunity but are using money from contributors who “expect something from them.”