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

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

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

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.

Download the NBC News app for full politics coverage.

Highlights from the Las Vegas Democratic debate:

Live Blog

Google 'democratic debate' ... and you get Bloomberg's ad

A gentle reminder of just how expansive Bloomberg’s ad buys are. His campaign has prime ad real estate tonight for Google searches for the debate.

In hour two, Bloomberg's having the debate he wanted. It may not overshadow the first hour's pile-on.

Bloomberg has spent the second hour of the debate much more comfortable on stage, discussing policies around climate change, the tax code and small businesses.

He took shots at Sanders in particular, comparing his policies to "communism," which Sanders called a "cheap shot."

"I can't think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation," Bloomberg said of the proposals. "This is ridiculous. We're not going to throw out capitalism, we tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism and it just didn't work."

But hour two may not be the headline coming out of Wednesday night's bout. What is likely to get more attention is Bloomberg's first hour, where he got annihilated by Warren and other candidates on nondisclosure agreements and stop-and-frisk.

But Bloomberg is left with some moments that are likely to serve as clips in upcoming campaign ads. And as we know, the Bloomberg operation is more than equipped to turn those bits around into far-reaching ads.

Debate watch Las Vegas: First-time voter looks to debate for guidance

LAS VEGAS — People are trickling into the watch party at Layla's Palace Banquet Hall as the debate continues. Among them is Jasmine Campuzano, 18, who said she's been waiting for four years to cast a vote against President Donald Trump. This will be the first year she can vote.

"I wanted to make sure the person I vote for isn't a surprise later," said Campuzano, who attended the event with her mother and brother. "I want to make sure the person I vote for is what I am actually getting."

She's still not sure which Democrat will get her vote, but she's hoping to have a better idea by the end of the debate. At the moment, the high school senior said it looks like a catfight on stage and it's hard to follow.

"But I like how Elizabeth [Warren] is answering the questions," she said.

Ex-candidate Andrew Yang tweets through debate

Klobuchar wants to refocus attacks on Trump

Fact check: Did the health care industry make $100 billion in profits?

Sanders said Wednesday night that "the health care industry made $100 billion in profits."

"Somehow or another, Canada can provide universal health care to all their people," he said. "U.K. can do it, France can do it, Germany could, all of Europe can do it. Gee whiz. Somehow or another, we are the only major country on Earth that can't do it. Why is that?"

In the context of health insurance, Sanders' characterization of profits is an exaggeration. The health insurance industry earned $23.4 billion in 2018, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The industry earned $16.1 billion in 2017.

However, a survey of some of the country's hospitals reported $91 billion of operating revenue in 2016, according to a 2017 Deloitte survey. Meanwhile two of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies — Pfizer and Roche — reported $12.69 billion and $14.1 billion respectively for fiscal year 2019.

Bloomberg hits Sanders over his critiques of wealth inequality

The slip away from civility continued tonight as Bloomberg hit back at Sanders over his plan to restructure the American economy and tackle wealth inequality in part by giving workers more say in the companies where they work. 

"Mr. Bloomberg, maybe it wasn't you that made all that money. Maybe your workers played some role in that, as well," Sanders said. 

Bloomberg shot back: "I can't think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation. This is ridiculous."

He added: "We're not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that, the other countries tried that — it was called communism — and it just didn't work.”

Debate watch Las Vegas: Environmental groups quiet down for climate change answers

LAS VEGAS — When the topic switched to climate change and the environment, the room grew quiet at the banquet hall here, as those at this debate watch party honed in on candidates' responses.

Tonight’s party was hosted by the Nevada Conservation League and Chispa Nevada, an environmental group that advocates for Latino communities.

The biggest applause and cheers here came when Warren declared, “We cannot continue to allow our public lands to be used for profit.”

This is who's attacking Bloomberg the most

Mike Bloomberg emerged early in the debate as a candidate worthy of piling on. Since then, every other candidate has taken a shot, two shots, four shots, 10 shots at the former New York mayor.

An hour and thirty minutes into the debate, Bloomberg had been attacked 42 times.

This is what the attack tracker looks like:

And here's how the per-candidate attacks on Bloomberg are shaking out. Follow along our debate-night candidate attack tracker here.

Warren takes big swings at her opponents after losing New Hampshire, Iowa

Warren came ready to pick a fight at Wednesday’s debate, a week after she finished fourth in the New Hampshire primary. The primary was a tough loss for the New England politician who once led polls there. That, along with questions from pundits about her campaign's longevity, appears to have enlivened the progressive Democrat, who took more than a few swipes at her opponents. 

So far she has taken particular aim at Bloomberg for his past comments about women and for having female employees sign nondisclosure agreements, but she hasn’t stopped there. Known as the candidate with a plan for seemingly everything, Warren provided policy specifics on her own health care plan, while pointing to what she deemed to be lackluster offerings of her opponents. 

It remains to be seen if it’s too little too late for Warren ahead of Nevada where she has dipped in the polls and early voting has already started or if her big swings will push her to a big win in the Silver State’s caucuses on Saturday.