The Latest: Democratic debate begins ahead of Nevada voting

Politics

People stand on stage during setup for the Nevada Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The latest on the 2020 presidential campaign and Democratic debate (all times local):

6 p.m.

Six Democratic presidential candidates have taken the stage in Las Vegas for a debate ahead of Nevada’s caucuses.

The Wednesday night debate offers former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg his debut appearance on stage. It’s the first debate he’s qualified for since entering the race in November after the Democratic National Committee adjusted some of its requirements.

Other candidates participating in the debate are former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Sanders’ and Biden’s campaigns took aim at Bloomberg before the debate, with the former raising questions about his health and the latter pointing to his reversals on key issues. The attacks underscore how seriously Democrats are taking the former New York City mayor’s campaign, now that he’s rocketed to double-digit support in national polls and qualified to appear in debates.

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1:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, will speak to Nevada Republican activists on Saturday as Democrats hold their caucuses.

Republicans canceled their caucuses this year and are expected to pledge the state’s national convention delegates to Trump during a central committee meeting in Pahrump. Nevada is among several states where Republicans are forgoing their typical primaries or caucuses.

The meeting is a day after Trump holds a campaign rally in Las Vegas. He’s offering a counternarrative as Democrats choose from a crowded field of candidates at some 2,000 precinct caucuses around the state Saturday. Thousands have already weighed in during four days of early voting.

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11:15 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidates are joining union members picketing outside a Las Vegas casino.

Elizabeth Warren arrived first Wednesday at the Palms Casino Resort off the Strip. Wearing red like the picketing workers of the powerful Culinary Union, Warren marched with workers. She joined in chants of “Palms Casino look around, Vegas is a union town.”

Pete Buttigieg carried a Culinary sign saying “No contract, no peace” as union officials pushed through a throng of television cameras to clear a path for him along the picket line. Amy Klobuchar carried a sign for the Teamsters.

Joe Biden wrapped an arm around Culinary leader Geoconda Argüello-Kline. Tom Steyer joined in chants of “No justice, no peace,” bobbing his head to the rhythm.

Workers at the Stations Casinos, a chain of neighborhood establishments, and the Palms have voted to join a union but are still working without contracts. The owners are billionaires Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who are staunch supporters of President Donald Trump.

Bernie Sanders, who has feuded with union leaders after they warned members that his “Medicare for All” plan would jeopardize their vaunted health care, did not join the picket.

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