Phillips launches longshot Democratic bid for presidency
Minneapolis — Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips has officially launched a longshot bid for the presidency, breaking dramatically from his own party by taking a stand against President Joe Biden's re-election run.
Phillips started the campaign roll out late Thursday and will file for New Hampshire's presidential primary later on Friday.
"We've got some challenges, that's for sure," Phillips said in a social media video announcing his run. "We're going to repair this economy, and we are going to repair America as long as we do it together."
The third term congressman's presidential ambitions stem from his concern that Democrats need an alternative to Biden in the 2024 primary race and polling showing struggles for the incumbent.
There's already worry among Democrats that Phillips' run will hurt Biden's re-election chances. Others warn they don't see a path for Phillips to win.
"He has no chance of a snowball in hell," said Joe Trippi, who has worked on several presidential campaigns and was Democrat Howard Dean's campaign manager in 2004.
The likelihood that former president Donald Trump could become the GOP nominee in the 2024 general election raises the stakes even higher for Democrats.
"If you have any conversation of a primary, you will have to communicate why you think the sitting President shouldn't be elected," said Michael Blake, a former Obama White House aide and previous Democratic National Committee vice chair. "So you're creating messaging and creating confusion when we don't need that."
The lonely stand Phillips has taken within his own party has alienated him from allies. And in early October, Phillips confirmed he was leaving his House Democratic leadership post.
Phillips' crusade this summer was met with public pushback from allies of the president. Those voices are only expected to grow louder now that Phillips has announced a 2024 campaign.
The Minnesotan's campaign faced an early mishap. After announcing his presidential run on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday night the same account was labeled by the company as being suspended early Friday morning.
Biden would be 82 at the time of a second inauguration. The map for Phillips, 54, to defeat Biden in a primary is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. While Phillips could try to make a case for generational change, his political differences from Biden are slim to none and the Minnesotan has backed Biden's work as president.
"We appreciate the [congressman's] almost 100 percent support of this president as he's moved forward with some really important key legislative priorities for the American people," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.
Even in the best of conditions, recent American political history shows that intraparty challenges to sitting presidents end in failure for the candidate rising against the person in power.
Phillips has a conceivable path to victory in New Hampshire because Biden has chosen not to appear on the state's primary ballot. Biden strongly supports the Democratic National Committee's reshuffled order of state presidential primaries, which places South Carolina ahead of New Hampshire. And New Hampshire is defying the DNC by seeking to still hold its primary first.
That means the only Democrats on New Hampshire's primary ballot could be Phillips, author Marianne Williamson and other lesser-known candidates. Some Democrats in New Hampshire are expected to organize a write-in campaign for Biden.
In addition to South Carolina, the other early state primaries are expected to include Nevada and Michigan. Phillips failed to file for the Nevada primary before the state's deadline, and South Carolina is the state that essentially resurrected Biden's 2020 presidential primary effort by giving him an overwhelming victory.
"You've got a preview of what to expect of anybody who runs against Biden in South Carolina back in 2020," said influential South Carolina Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, whose support for Biden ahead of that year's state primary boosted Biden's run. "It'll be a repeat."
Running for president does not necessarily prevent Phillips from changing course in the coming months and choosing instead to run for re-election to his congressional seat. The filing deadline in Minnesota for Congress isn't until early June of 2024. But Minnesota DNC member Ron Harris has already announced a run for Phillips' seat. Harris has also made clear he strongly supports Biden's 2024 campaign.
Fellow Democrats in Congress haven't been shy about pushing back against Phillips as it became clear he was going to enter the presidential race. Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz called Phillips a friend and "tremendous congressman" earlier this month but said that "no one should be primarying Joe Biden."
"We need to be unifying behind Joe Biden to take on Donald Trump, who is an existential threat to the country," said Moskowitz.
Staff writer Ryan Faircloth contributed to this report.
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