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Las Vegas Democratic debate live updates: Six candidates faced off in Nevada

The ninth Democratic debate may have been the feistiest one yet.

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Sparks flew during the ninth Democratic presidential debate, with five veteran debaters and one newcomer facing off on stage on Wednesday.

Wednesday's debate was the first for billionaire former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who took considerable heat from the other candidates on stage over his treatment of women and defense of stop and frisk.

The debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and The Nevada Independent, put pressure on Bernie Sanders to defend his position as a leading candidate in the run-up to Nevada's caucuses on Saturday, while moderates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar — and now Bloomberg — looked to widen their bases, and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren sought a boost after failing to meet early expectations.

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Highlights from the Las Vegas Democratic debate:

Live Blog

Mike Bloomberg bets on zigging while other presidential candidates are zagging

Mike Bloomberg had an unusual request for the hundred or so supporters waiting patiently in the rain: Please go home.

It was an overflow crowd outside from the overflow crowd inside. Inside the Chattanooga African American Museum behind him, 500 people were awaiting the former New York mayor. Another 400 who couldn't fit filled up a second room, where his campaign arranged television screens to pipe in his speech.

So, for the remaining few getting soaked outside, Bloomberg cut them loose. He said his campaign could simply email them his speech instead.

"Don't get too cold," he said.

Late to the game but flush with endless amounts of cash, Bloomberg is running a campaign that bears almost no resemblance to that of any other 2020 candidate. If there are rules for winning the White House, Bloomberg is making a billion-dollar bet that in the America that elected Donald Trump president, the rules no longer matter.

Read more about Bloomberg's unorthodox campaign.

Bloomberg making Democratic debate debut in Las Vegas. His past faceoffs may shed light on how he'll fare.

One Democratic rival took Mike Bloomberg to task over past remarks he's made about everything from domestic violence to policing. Another for funding Republican campaigns. Still another hit him for allegations of buying political favor.

That was in 2001, 2005 and 2009, respectively: the last three times Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, stood behind a podium and faced off against political rivals. But by the end of Wednesday's Democratic debate in Las Vegas, the first for he which has qualified, he's likely to have weathered similar attacks — and more.

Read how Bloomberg has been preparing for the spotlight and the scrutiny — and how he's performed in past debates over the years.

Everything you need to know about tonight's debate

The ninth Democratic presidential debate is set for Wednesday in Las Vegas, and it will feature a new billionaire on the stage.

While Mike Bloomberg qualified to make the debate stage for the first time, Tom Steyer, the other billionaire in the race who's been a frequent presence at the Democratic debates, did not.

The debate is the last before the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.

Here's what you need to know.

5 things to watch for at tonight's debate

Mike Bloomberg is in.

In a development that promises to shake up the race, the wealthy entrepreneur and former mayor of New York City qualified for Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate with just hours to spare after a new poll showed him surging nationally into the runner-up position behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The two campaigns are spoiling for a fight and increasingly depicting the contest as a two-man race. Each views the other as an ideal foil — a self-described democratic socialist calling for a “revolution” to take on the wealthy elite, and an economically centrist billionaire who preaches the virtues of capitalism and hard work.

A weekend spat between Sanders and Bloomberg appears likely to spill over into the six-person debate that will also include Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar. The debate will be hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and the Nevada Independent, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.

Here are five things to watch for on Wednesday.