The Democrats storming Nevada in the lead up to Saturday's caucuses faced off in Wednesday's debate, a matchup in a more diverse early state than the first two, with a new wrinkle in the form of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who took the stage for the first time.
Joining the former New York City mayor on the stage were former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
The debate, hosted by NBC, MSNBC and the Nevada Independent in the state's epicenter of Las Vegas, brought the presidential contenders in front of a different audience that far more reflects the makeup of the Democratic Party and the country as a whole. Nevada is nearly 30% Latino, over 10% black and encompasses one of the nation's fastest-growing Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations.
But once again absent from the Democratic debate stage, and from the primary's top tier, was a candidate of color -- a somewhat unexpected reality for a party that once touted its most diverse field, even with a still fluid race. Only six candidates squared off in the matchup, which takes place only three days ahead of the Nevada caucuses.
Here's how the night unfolded. Please refresh for updates:
11: 23 p.m. Final candidate speaking times
According to an unofficial count of candidate speaking times from ABC News, here's where the candidates ended for the night:
Warren: 16:13 Klobuchar: 16:09 Sanders: 15:52 Buttigieg: 15:33 Biden: 13:59 Bloomberg: 13:44
11 p.m. The debate has ended
10:59 p.m. Biden interrupted by protestors as he kicked off closing statement
Former Vice President Joe Biden's closing statement was interrupted by protestors, just as he began.
"I'm running because so many people," he said, before protests broke out from the audience.
After the protesters were cleared out, Biden continued, "I'm running because so many people are being left behind. People I grew up in Scranton when my dad lost his job, lost his house, had to move. We moved to Claymont. We found ourselves in a position where we had little ability to get anything done. And my dad worked like hell. I learned a lot. I've been knocked down a whole lot. I know what it's like to be knocked down but we have to get up..."
10:53 p.m. Candidates deliver their closing statements
Klobuchar highlights her record of gaining across the aisle support, saying, "We need a candidate that can bring people with her. Yes, a fired up democratic base, but also independents and moderate Republicans." Bloomberg points people to his website, adding, "but I'm not asking for any money" and distances himself from Trump and the other candidates.
Buttigieg positions himself as the centrist option, saying "if you look at the choice between a revolution or the status quo and you don't see where you fit in that picture, then join us... We cannot afford to lean on the same Washington playbook. We cannot afford to alienate half the country.
Warren also looks to what makes her career different. "I am, of all the people on this stage, I have been a politician the shortest time, but I've been the one out fighting for families the longest time," she says.
Biden's closing is interrupted by protesters but he takes the chance to criticize Sanders in his final seconds on the stage. "The only person in here that has a worse record on immigration is Bernie because Bernie voted against the 2007 bill. Had that immigration bill passed, there would be 6 million members would be now American citizens," he says.
Sanders responds in his closing, saying, "groups say that bill having provisions akin to slavery, Joe" before honing in on his final message of the night: "Real change never takes place from the top on down, never takes place from an oligarchy controlled by billionaires. We need to mobilize millions of people to stand up for justice."
10:48 p.m.: Threats of a brokered convention plague the Democratic field
The Democratic nominee will need 1,991 delegates to clinch the nomination this summer, but fears over a split party and brokered convention-- where one candidate cannot reach that threshold-- are starting to weigh on the primary field.
When asked if they believed that the candidate who got the most delegates, but not the necessary 1,991, should win the nomination, all but one candidate, Bloomberg, said no.
Sanders said that the candidate with the most votes should win the nomination, a cornerstone of his governmental reform platform.
10:44 p.m.: Sanders campaign says debate show has led to spike in fundraising
"During the first hour of tonight's debate, Bernie Sanders' supporters made 15,218 donations for a total of $300,000 – nearly 40% of all money raised on ActBlue," his campaign said.
10:43 p.m. Buttigieg and Klobuchar spar on immigration
After Klobuchar says she supports a path to citizenship for Dreamers, Buttigieg questions Klobuchar on her voting record, saying she's the only Democrat in the race to break from the others in Washington.
"You voted to confirm the head of customs and border protection under Trump, who is of the architects of the family separation policy. You voted to make English the national language. Do you know the message that sends in as multilingual a state as Nevada to immigrants? You have been unusual among Democrats -- I think the Democrat among all of the senators running for president -- most likely to vote for Donald Trump's judges, who we know are especially hostile to dreamers and to the rights of immigrants," Buttigieg says, before delivering a short message in Spanish.
"I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete," Klobuchar responds. "You know what? You have not been in the arena doing that work. You've memorized a bunch of talking points and a bunch of things, but can tell you one thing: What the people of this country want, they want a leader that has the heart for the immigrants of this country and that is me."
10:43 p.m.: Candidate speaking times 90 minutes into the debate
According to an unofficial count of candidate speaking times from ABC News, here's where the candidates stand:
Warren: 14:40 Sanders: 14:35 Bloomberg: 12:45 Klobuchar: 11:29 Buttigieg: 10:50 Biden: 10:46
10:40 p.m. Biden seeks to pitch electability by invoking Trump's attacks on him
Former Vice President Joe Biden sought to cast his campaign as the toughest competitor against President Trump by saying, "It was said that I was in the pocket of Mitch McConnell. I’m the only person on this stage who has beaten Mitch McConnell on four major cases...And Mitch Mcconnell, I've been the object his affection and the president's affection the way he's gone after me this new Republican Party after me, after my son, after my family."
"I don't need to be told I'm a friend to Mitch McConnell's. He's been the biggest pain in my neck in a long, long time," he said. He then argued, " We're in a situation where you have the, excuse me, the president making clear that he doesn't want any part of me being his opponent. He’s spending $125 million this week to keep me from being the opponent. I wonder why."
10:32 p.m. Warren implies conflict of interest for Biden, Klobuchar, Buttigieg
After calling herself a capitalist and saying the country is worried "about gambling on a narrow vision that doesn't address the fears of millions of Americans," Sen. Elizabeth Warren directly calls out the relationships of some of her opponents.
"Amy and Joe's hearts are in the right place, but we can't be so eager to be liked by Mitch McConnell that we forget how to fight the Republicans. Mayor Buttigieg has been taking money from big donors and changing his positions. So it makes it unclear what it is he stands for other than his own," Warren says.
10:29 p.m.: Buttigieg: "I was into Bernie before it was cool."
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg acknowledged that he previously had lauded Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"The qualities I admired then are qualities I still respect a great deal. I never said that I agree with every part of his policy views, then or now," Buttigieg said.
However, on the trail Buttigieg has spent his time as a top-tier candidate attacking Sanders over the costs of many of his plans calling the Vermont senator and his policy positions divisive.
"At a certain point you have to do the math," Buttigieg said over the cost of Sanders' health care plan.
10:24 p.m. Warren proposes wealth tax as Bloomberg draws comparisons to "communism"
When asked if he agrees with Sanders' stance that billionaires should not exist, Bloomberg says, "this is ridiculous."
"I can't think of a ways that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get reelected than listening to this conversation." Bloomberg says. "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."
Warren responds by pitching a two percent wealth tax.
"It is a question of values. Do we want to invest in Mr. Bloomberg or an entire generation?," she asks.
When pressed with a follow up, Bloomberg says he would not support a wealth tax.
10:21 p.m. Should billionaires exist?
After Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who centers his campaign on railing against the wealthiest Americans, invoked the crux of his campaign, saying, "We have a grotesque and immoral distribution of wealth and income. Mike Bloomberg owns more wealth than the bottom 125 million Americans. That's wrong," Bloomberg had the opportunity to respond head on.
When asked should billionaires exist, the former New York City mayor said, "I can't speak for all billionaires... I've made a lot of money and I'm giving it all away to make this country better. And a good chunk goes to the Democratic Party as well."
"Should you have earned that much money," he was asked by the moderators.
"Yes. I worked very hard for it. And I'll giving it away," he said.
10:14 p.m.: Biden says small Latino-owned businesses won't be harmed by his tax plan
As the debate turns to the impact of candidate tax plans, Biden says small Latino-owned businesses won't be harmed by his tax plan.
"Taxes on small businesses won’t go up. As a matter of fact, we're gonna make sure there is more money available for small businesses in the Latino community and the black community to be able to get the capital to start businesses," he said. "We should start rewarding work, not just wealth."
Biden argued redlining from Wall Street disenfranchised groups around the country. He said greed, not failure, is the reason why the tax code favors the wealthy.
10:11 p.m. Bloomberg, a longtime climate champion, debuts his approach to climate climate
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, during his debut debate performance this cycle, outlined his approach to tackling climate change.
"You have to convince the Chinese that it is in their interests as well. Their people will die just as our people will die. It is India that is an even bigger problem. It is an enormous problem. Nobody is doing anything about it," he began.
The longtime climate champion explained, "We could right here in America make a big difference. We're closing the coal fired power plants. If we enforce some of the rules on fracking so that they don't release methane into the air and into the water, you'll make a big difference...When it is done poorly like they're doing in too many places where the methane gets into the air, it is very damaging. It is a transition fuel. You want to go to all renewables. That's still many years from now."
"Before, I think the senator mentioned 2050 for some data. No scientist thinks the numbers for 2050 or 2050 anymore. They’re 2040, 2030," he added.
10:09 p.m.: Biden courts the union vote
Biden took an opportunity to go after the union vote in the union-heavy, and more diverse, Silver State.
"And by the way, minority communities are the communities most badly hurt by the way in which we deal with climate change. They are the ones that become the victims," Biden started.
"I have a trillion-dollar program for infrastructure. That will provide for thousands and thousands of new jobs. Not $15 an hour, but $50 an hour plus benefits. Unions. Unions being able to do that. And what it does is it will change the nature."
Biden has heavily relied on support from communities of color after a slow start in the early states. While on the trail, he's highlighted his support from unions nationwide.
h3>10:01 p.m.: Warren on climate: "I believe in science."
Warren responded to questioning about the country's reliance on fracking and mining, saying that if certain natural resources are needed, it would needed to be done in a sustainable way.
"We cannot continue to let our public lands be used for profits by those who don't care about our environment and are not making it better," she said.
Warren tapped into her anti-corruption stump as she defended her stance, arguing Washington's corruption and the filibuster gives the fossil fuel industry veto power over legislation.
"We have two problems. The first is corruption. An industry that makes its money felt all through Washington. The first thing I want to do in Washington is pass my anti-corruption bill so we can start making the changes we need to make on climate. And the second is the filibuster. If you're not willing to roll back the filibuster, then you're giving the fossil fuel industry a veto," she said.
10 p.m. Candidates weigh in on environmental policy
Biden is the first to address specific policies he would implement that would help keep Las Vegas and Reno livable but also not hurt the local economy?
"What I would do is, number one, work on providing the $47 billion we have for tech to make sure we find answers to find a way to transmit that wind and solar energy across the network in the United States. Invest in battery technology. I would immediately reinstate all what trump has eliminated in terms of the EPA. I could secondly make sure that we have 500,000 new charging stations in every new highway we built in the United States of America or repaired."
Bloomberg says he's committed to stop the expansion of coal and to rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, among working with India and China on environmentally-friendly trade policies.
Warren seizes the chances to weigh in on one her landmark platforms.
"I think we should stop mining on public lands and all offshore drilling...We cannot continue to let our public lands be used for profits by those who don't care about our environment and are not making it better," she says.
9:53 p.m. Klobuchar, seeking to tout experience, once again targets Buttigieg
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who sought to differentiate his campaign from those with only "Washington experience," said to Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, "You're literally part of the committee that's overseeing these things and were not able to speak to literally the first thing about the politics of the country to our south."
"Are you trying to say that I'm dumb? Are you mocking me here, Pete," Klobuchar responded.
"I'm saying you shouldn't trivialize that knowledge," he shot back.
"If I could respond, this was a pretty big allegation," Klobuchar said later. "He's basically saying that I don't have experience to be President of the United States. I have passed over 100 bills as the lead Democrat since being in the U.S. Senate. I am the one, not you, that has won statewide and congressional district after congressional district."
9:44 p.m. Bloomberg responds to allegations of sexual harassment within his company: "Maybe they didn't like a joke I told."
Despite women who are sealed to NDA agreements within Bloomberg's company, Bloomberg said that those agreements were made consensually.
"I said we're not going to get -- to end these agreements because they were made consensually and they have every right to expect that they will stay private," Bloomberg said.
9:47 p.m. Warren stands up for women who made claims against Bloomberg for a hostile work environment
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg came under fire as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who directly slammed him keeping women who previously worked for his company under non-disclosure agreements.
"I hope you heard his defense. I've been nice to some women," she began, as Bloomberg rolled his eyes. "That just doesn't cut it...The Mayor has to stand on his record. And what we need to know is exactly what's lurking out there. He has gotten some number of women -- dozens, who knows -- to sign nondisclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace."
"So Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements," she asked. "We have a very few nondisclosure agreements," he responded, but wouldn't commit to releasing those women from the agreements.
9:41 p.m. Bloomberg faces heat for delay in releasing tax returns
"I can't go to turbo tax," Bloomberg says, explaining the delay in releasing his tax returns while voters in Nevada head to the polls. "Fortunately I make a lot of money and we do business all around the world. The number of pages will probably be in the thousands of pages."
Bloomberg adds that his returns should be released "in a few weeks" -- but his opponents say that's too late.
"It is a major issue because the President of the United States has been hiding behind his tax returns even when courts order him to come forward with those tax returns. I don't care how much money anyone has. I think it's great you've got a lot of money, but I think you've got to come forward with your tax returns," Klobuchar says.
9:35 p.m. Sanders doesn't commit to releasing full medical record
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the oldest candidates in the Democratic field who suffered a heart attack in Las Vegas last year, was asked about his promise for full transparency when it comes to his medical records, but the 78-year-old deflected.
"We released the full report of that heart attack. Second of all, we released the full -- my whole 29 years in the capitol, the attending physician, all of my history, medical history," he said. "And furthermore, we released reports from two leading Vermont cardiologists who described my situation. And by the way, who said Bernie Sanders is more than able to deal with the stress and the vigor of being president of the United States. They follow me around the campaign, three, four, five events a day, see how you're doing compared to me."
But he did not commit to releasing his full medical record at any point in the contest.
9:33 p.m. Klobuchar address controversial past as prosecutor
Klobuchar has fielded questions for weeks on s a case involving an 11-year-old African-American girl who was shot doing her homework at her kitchen table. Three people were convicted, but Klobuchar welcomes new evidence forward.
"It is very clear that any evidence, if there is new evidence, even old evidence, it should be reviewed by that office, the county attorney," she says. "I have made very clear for months now that like so many prosecutors, I think those cases in my time, they were all going to the grand jury. It was thought that was the best way to handle them in many, many jurisdictions."
Moving forward, Klobuchar says it's "going to be on me to earn it. You earn it with what you stand for when it comes to equal opportunity. You earn it with the work I have done, the leadership I've shown on voting rights and, yes, you earn it with the work that must be done on criminal justice reform."
9:31 p.m. Biden says apology on stop and frisk is not enough, Warren says it doesn't depend on how policy turned out
"And it's not whether he apologized or not, it's the policy. The policy was abhorrent. And it was in fact a violation of every right people have," Biden says. Warren jumped in on the attack of Bloomberg, as well, saying Bloomberg's argument that stop and frisk snowballed out of control, saying it targeted communities of color.
"When the mayor says that he apologized, listen very closely to the apology. The language he used is about stop and frisk. It's about how it turned out. Now this isn't about how it turned out, this is about what it was designed to do to begin with. It targeted communities of color. It targeted black and brown men from the beginning," she said.
9:29 p.m. Bloomberg addresses past support for "stop-and-frisk"
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, when asked about his past support for the controversial policy of "stop-and-frisk" policing, tackled his past head on.
"If I go back and look at my time in office, the one thing that I'm really worried about, embarrassed about, was how it turned out with stop and frisk," he said. "When I got into office, there was 650 murders a year in New York City. And I thought that my first responsibility was to give people the right to live. That's the basic right of everything."
"And when we discovered, I discovered, that we were doing many, many, too many stop and frisks, we cut 95% of it out," he continued. "And I’ve sat down with a bunch of African-American clergy and businesspeople to talk about this, to try to learn. I've talked to a number of kids who had been stopped. And I'm trying to -- was trying to understand how we change our policies so we can keep the city safe."
9:25 p.m. Warren attacked Klobuchar head-on on differences over health care.
"Amy, I looked online at your plan, it's two paragraphs. Families are suffering," Warren said.
"You can't simply stand here and trash an idea to give health care coverage to everyone without having a realistic plan of your own. And if you're not going to own up to the fact either that you don't have a plan or that your plan is going to leave people without health care coverage, full coverage, then you need to say so."
9:24 p.m. Biden tethers himself to Obama on healthcare, taking on each rival in the process
Former Vice President Joe Biden, in his effort to set himself apart on the key issue of health care, first tethered himself to former President Barack Obama, telling the debate audience, "I'm the only one on the stage that actually got anything done on health care. Okay? I'm the guy the president turned to and said, go get the votes for Obamacare."
Then, he turned to his rivals he is sharing the stage with, targeting each one in the process.
"From the moment we passed that signature legislation, Mike called it a disgrace, number one," he said. "Number two, Trump decided to get rid of it. Number three, my friends here came up with another plan. But they don't tell you, when you ask Bernie how much it cost, the last time he said that I think it was on your show, he said, we'll find out. We'll find out."
9:23 p.m. Sanders responds to attacks on Medicare-for-all
Sanders switches to his stump when responding to attacks on Medicare for all and it's record in the Senate.
"Maybe it is finally time that we said, as a nation, enough is enough, the function of a rational health care system is not to make the pharmaceutical industry and the drug companies rich. It is to provide health care to all people as a human right, not a privilege," Sanders said.
9:19 p.m. Warren compares Buttigieg's healthcare plan a Powerpoint, Klobuchar's to a post it note
Warren pitches Medicare for All and criticizes her opponents' healthcare plans for lack of substance.
"Mayor Buttigieg really has a slogan that was thought up by his consultants to paper over a thin version of a plan that would leave millions of people unable to afford their health care. It's not a plan, it's a power point. And Amy's plan is even less. It's like a post-it note, insert plan here," Warren says. "You can't simply stand here and trash an idea to give health care coverage to everyone without having realistic plan of your own," Warren says.
9:13 p.m. Sanders addresses harassment by supporters on social media
"We have over 10.6 million people on Twitter and 99.9% of them are decent human beings, are working people, are people who believe in justice, compassion and love. And if there are a few people who make ugly remarks, who attack trade union leaders, I disown those people. They are not part of our movement," Sanders says, after fielding criticism from Warren and Buttigieg.
9:11 p.m. Buttigieg calls Sanders polarizing
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, in a continuation of his critique of Sen. Bernie Sander's progressive stances calls the veteran lawmaker "polarizing."
Sanders responds by saying he supports the working class and calls Buttigieg out about his well-heeled donors.
Buttigieg then responds by saying he too represents to working class including the culinary union that has critiqued Sanders' policies.
9:10 p.m. Buttigieg contrasts himself with Sanders and Bloomberg, positions himself as centrist candidate
Buttigieg say the Democratic party need to "wake up" and nominate someone "who is actually a Democrat."
"We could wake up two weeks from today, the day after super Tuesday, and the only candidates left standing will be Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, the two most polarizing figures on this stage," Buttigieg says.
"Most Americans don't see where they fit if they've got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power. Let's put forward somebody who actually lives and works in a middle class neighbor in an industrial mid western city. Let's put forward somebody who's actually a Democrat. We shouldn't have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out."
9:09 p.m.:Biden calls on his electability argument as a defense while calling out Bloomberg's controversial use of stop-and-frisk
Biden laid into his electability argument, which has remained a centerpiece of his campaign despite a lackluster showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, and pivoted into an attack on Bloomberg's controversial criminal justice policy during his time as mayor.
"NBC did a poll yesterday, it says Joe Biden is best equipped to beat Donald Trump," Biden started.
"The mayor says that he has a great record," Biden began. "He had stop and frisk, throwing close to 5 million young black men up against a wall. And when we came along in our administration, the President -- Obama -- and said, we're going to send in a moderator -- a mediator to stop it, he said, 'that's unnecessary.'"
9:05 p.m. Warren aims at Bloomberg
Sen. Warren lays into Bloomberg for his questionable record on how he has treated women calling him a "questionable billionaire." She directly goes after Bloomberg saying "I'd like to talk about who we're running against. A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse faced lesbians, and no I'm not talking about Donald Trump, I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg," she said.
He does not directly respond to her critique.
9 p.m. The debate is now getting underway
The debate is now getting underway.
8:53 p.m. Six candidates walk on stage and take their positions at the podiums
It's the first time Bloomberg has taken the debate stage this election cycle and the candidates have sparred all day ahead of this showdown--a foreshadowing of the possible back and forth that could take place on stage. Many in the Democratic field have criticized the former New York city mayor for the way he has leveraged his substantial wealth in the contest.
8:42 p.m. DNC Chair Tom Perez calls Nevada "a microcosm of America"
"The Nevada Democratic Party and countless volunteers and partners organized and lifted up diverse communities across every inch of this state...Nevada is truly a microcosm of America," he said
Perez also touts voter turnout in Nevada following Democrats' record-breaking turnout in New Hampshire.
"We're already at 70,000 early voters here and to give you some perspective, in 2016, 84,000 people turned out in total on caucus day," he says. "Our unity is indeed our greatest strength."
8:34 p.m. Former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., says it's time to "thump Trump"
Former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, a retired five-term senator from Nevada and an architect of the state's Democratic caucuses, welcomes the audience to the Silver state, where "state parties are meaningful," he says.
He also pitches Nevada for first-in-the-nation status saying, "Iowa and New Hampshire do not represent the makeup of the United States. That's why pundits are saying and I'm saying that we should have Nevada as the first state to vote."
He takes a moment to reflect on his tenure in the Senate, saying "every time we had another woman in the Senate, the Senate got better."
"Nevada is a state that is representative of the country. It's diverse. It's heavily unionized," he continues. "What are we going to do? The main thing we're going to do is thump Trump."
8:30 p.m. Six candidates are set to square off, including Bloomberg for the first time
The six candidates who qualified for the debate are former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Bloomberg, the newest face to Wednesday's lineup, has not graced a debate stage in more than a decade -- and he’s never been on one this crowded.