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The stage for the Las Vegas Democratic debate at the Paris casino is seen on Feb. 18, 2020. Photo by Luz Gray/ The Nevada Independent.

The eyes of a nation are turning to Las Vegas on Wednesday evening, when six Democratic presidential hopefuls face off for the ninth debate of the hard-fought primary season.

The Paris resort-casino on the Las Vegas Strip will play host for the debate, which takes place the day after a historic and high-turnout period of early voting and three days before the official Caucus Day. Nevada is the third state in the nominating contest, and Silver State voters could bring more clarity — and possibly surprises — to a race that so far has Bernie Sanders in the lead.

The two-hour debate, which will air on NBC and MSNBC starting at 6 p.m. on the West Coast, will stream live on The Nevada Independent's website, NBC News NOW on OTT devices,,, NBC News Mobile App, NBC News and MSNBC’s Facebook pages. It will also air live in Spanish on cable channel Universo as well as the Noticias Telemundo mobile app and website, and Noticias Telemundo’s Facebook page.

At the last minute, ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg qualified for the debate. While he has held no campaign events in Nevada and is not even an option for Nevada voters because he didn’t file to run as a candidate here, his strategy of spending more than $300 million saturating airwaves nationwide has boosted his national poll numbers enough to land him a spot on the stage.

He’s become a favorite target of his opponents in recent days, with Sanders accusing him at Nevada rallies of “buying the airwaves” and comparing Bloomberg’s strategy to oligarchy.

The qualifications have edged out California billionaire Tom Steyer, who has been active in Nevada but whose rankings in nationwide polls have lagged below Nevada-specific numbers. His campaign blamed a dearth of Nevada-specific polls for the outcome and called it “shameful” that the Democratic National Committee did so after changing contribution rules that opened the stage to Bloomberg.

“The DNC is effectively shutting out contenders for the nomination who have demonstrated they can build the diverse coalition of voters that will be necessary to beat Donald Trump in November,” Steyer campaign manager Heather Hargreaves said on Tuesday. 

Moderators for the debate are Nevada Independent Editor Jon Ralston, NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC anchor Lester Holt, Meet the Press moderator and NBC News political director Chuck Todd, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent and host of MSNBC Live Hallie Jackson and senior correspondent at Noticias Telemundo Vanessa Hauc.

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