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Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks during a rally at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. / Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg will make a campaign stop in Chattanooga Wednesday afternoon to kick off early voting in the state.

The billionaire and former New York City mayor will speak at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center at 2 p.m. 

Hundreds of people were waiting outside the cultural center by 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Follow the Times Free Press here for updates from the rally.

Before his arrival, the Times Free Press asked Twitter followers what questions they have for Bloomberg. They questioned Bloomberg's position on the controversial "stop and frisk" policing strategy used in New York while he was mayor. The policy disproportionately targeted people of color, the majority of whom were found to be innocent, and was the focus of multiple lawsuits.

Before launching his campaign last year, Bloomberg apologized for the policy while visiting an African American church in Brooklyn. However, "stop and frisk" returned to the news this week after audio from 2015 was uncovered in which Bloomberg defends the practice, saying all the crime in "virtually every city" is done by young men of color.

Other critics have pointed out Bloomberg was a registered Republican between 2001 and 2007, during part of his tenure as New York City mayor. 

The presidential hopeful's visit marks the beginning of early voting in Tennessee, which lasts until February 25.

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