Michael Bloomberg, whose rise in the polls has rattled the Democratic presidential field, will face rivals eager to take him on in person for the first time on a debate stage, injecting a new, untested candidate into what had become almost routine campaign events.

The former New York mayor has enjoyed a surge in polling numbers, coming in second, with 19% to Bernie Sanders’ 31%, in an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Tuesday. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday has the former mayor in a tight third place at 14% to Sanders’ 32% and Joe Biden’s 16%.

The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll was the final break to qualify him to join his Democratic rivals Wednesday night in Las Vegas for their ninth debate. It will be the first time for many voters to see Bloomberg live instead of in a television ad.

But with those poll numbers comes far more scrutiny, and he has come under criticism for a week about past statements that don’t track with traditional Democratic positions on policing, women, race and health-care for the elderly. He has also taken hits for self-funding his campaign.

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

The rest of the field is also watching for their own moments in the hot seat. Sanders, the current front-runner will face questions about whether his progressive policies are too extreme for a general-election campaign.

And former Vice President Joe Biden has promised a first- or second-place finish in Nevada and wants to show his campaign is still viable after disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Pete Buttigieg has the most delegates, but concerns about his qualifications has kept other moderates like Amy Klobuchar in the mix

Bloomberg’s rivals are eager for the opportunity to confront him before a national television audience. He has campaigned in states where other candidates, and national media, are scarce and has faced little questioning while his $400 million in advertising saturates the airwaves and the internet.

“I cannot beat Michael Bloomberg on the airwaves, big surprise, even though we have gotten in millions and millions of dollars,” Klobuchar told reporters in Las Vegas. “But I can beat him on the debate stage.”

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