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Steyer makes South Carolina debate stage as campaign looks for boost from Palmetto State

Billionaire Tom Steyer officially qualified for the South Carolina Democratic presidential debate after a Sunday poll showed sufficient support for his candidacy in the Palmetto State.

Steyer will be back on the debate stage after missing out for the first time at last week’s debate in Las Vegas.

Steyer, who has made inroads in South Carolina’s largely African-American electorate, critiqued the Democratic National Committee for its rules for the Las Vegas debate. He cited a lack of polling in Nevada and South Carolina — states where he was vastly outperforming his national polls — which made it difficult for candidates to qualify and the removal of the fundraising requirement that allowed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the stage.


“The @DNC made a tremendous mistake in managing the debate qualification process. Requiring candidates to collect an arbitrary amount of contributors forced candidates of color from the race,” Steyer tweeted. “Then, it eliminated this very provision to help Mike Bloomberg to reach the debate stage — someone who used his police force to target Black and brown communities. And now it effectively silences and disenfranchises voters of color by not polling in NV and SC.”

But now, the candidate who sits in third place in the RealClearPolitics average of polls for South Carolina will be on the debate stage Tuesday, and will have his first opportunity to face off against fellow billionaire Bloomberg, who took incoming from all sides in last week’s Nevada debate.

Also on the stage will be Bloomberg, former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.


Steyer is hoping that his focus on minority issues, particularly reparations and support for historically black colleges and universities, will propel him to a strong finish in South Carolina that can fuel his campaign to Super Tuesday and potentially beyond.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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