Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips kicked off his insurgent presidential campaign in New Hampshire Friday, warning that President Biden is currently on track to lose to Donald Trump if Democrats nominate the incumbent for a second term next year.
“I am today announcing my candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America,” the 54-year-old Phillips (D-Minn.) told onlookers outside the State House in Concord. “The America I love and the America that I know all of you love.”
Phillips waited until the last day he could register for the New Hampshire primary ballot before entering the 2024 race. He has already missed the deadline to make the ballot in Nevada, another key early state.
“I didn’t set out to enter this race,” Phillips said. “But it looks like on our current course, the Democrats will lose and Trump will be our president again. President Biden is a good man and someone I tremendously respect. I understand why other Democrats don’t want to run against him, and why we are here.”
The Granite State appears to provide the best opportunity for Phillips to make an early statement in the race. Biden will not appear on the New Hampshire primary ballot due to the state’s disputes with the Democratic National Committee over a revised primary calendar that vaults South Carolina into the first-in-the-nation slot — ending New Hampshire’s century-long run as the leadoff Democratic contest.
Steve Shurtleff, a former speaker of the New Hampshire House who has distanced himself from Biden, said he has spoken twice with Phillips and believed the congressman might appeal to some Democrats and independents who can choose to vote in the primary.
“I like Biden and have a lot of respect for him. But I’m disappointed that he and the DNC have tried to take away our primary,” Shurtleff told the Associated Press. “It’s not that I want to see Joe lose. It’s that I want to see our primary win.”
Phillips has repeatedly made the case for Biden to step aside after a single term for a “new generation” of Democrats, telling “CBS Mornings” in an interview that aired Friday that “I think President Biden has done a spectacular job for our country, but it’s not about the past. This is an election about the future.”
In a campaign video posted online, Phillips promises to traipse through the snow to greet voters and “fix the economy,” a swipe at Biden who has made the slogan “Bidenomics” central to his re-election bid.
Phillips says his campaign will focus on four areas: the economy, crime, “generational change” and making the political environment less divisive.
“This is a last-minute campaign, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and courage is an important value to me,” he said in his announcement statement on X. “If President Biden is the Democratic nominee, we face an unacceptable risk of Trump being back in the White House. I know this campaign is a long shot, but that is why I think it is important and worth doing.”
Biden’s campaign responded to Phillips’ bid by pointing to “the historic, unified support he has from across the Democratic party for his reelection.
“The stakes of next year’s election could not be higher for the American people,” Biden 2024 rep Kevin Munoz said in a statement, “and the campaign is hard at work mobilizing the winning coalition that President Biden can uniquely bring together to once again beat the MAGA Republicans next November.”
Moments before Phillips even announced, meanwhile, Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz sent a Biden reelection campaign fundraising email titled “Minnesotans love Joe Biden” and taking an indirect swipe at the congressman, writing that some of his state’s residents sometimes “make political side shows for themselves.”
An AP-NORC poll released in August found that the top words associated with Biden were “old” and “confused.” Nearly 70% of Democrats and 77% of US adults said they thought Biden was too old to be effective for four more years.
With Post wires.
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