PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Rep. Dean Phillips says he plans to “under promise” and “overdeliver” as he runs a long-shot primary challenge against President Biden for the Democratic nomination.
Phillips, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, launched his campaign for the White House in late October. He’s focusing most of his time and resources on New Hampshire, where the president’s name won’t be on the ballot in the state’s unsanctioned Democratic primary on Jan. 23.
“Do I have to win? No. Absolutely not. Do I think I’m going to? No, I don’t. I bet you’ve never heard that from a politician before,” Phillips answered when asked by Fox News Digital where he needed to finish in the New Hampshire primary to continue his presidential quest.
Phillips acknowledged, “I’m a long shot, a dark horse, and that‘s fun. That’s fine. Because I feel what’s happening in the country and what’s happening right here.”
“I think we will surprise and from there it’s game on,” he predicted as he was interviewed following a campaign event in this heavily Democratic city in New Hampshire’s Seacoast.
Phillips, citing the 81-year-old president’s age, has repeatedly criticized Biden for “not passing the torch” to the next generation of Democratic leaders and urged that a serious primary contender challenge the president for the party’s 2024 nomination. Biden continues to suffer from underwater approval ratings among many Americans and faces concerns – not just from Republicans and independents but also from Democrats – over his physical and mental stamina.
When no other major Democrats considered running against Biden, the multimillionaire businessman and co-founder of a gelato company turned three-term House Democrat from Minnesota launched his own campaign.
While the president is the commanding frontrunner for his party’s 2024 nomination, polls indicate that many Americans – including plenty of Democrats – don’t want the president to seek a second term in the White House. Those same surveys spotlight that voters are not thrilled with the likely prospect of a rematch between Biden and the candidate he defeated in 2020, former President Donald Trump.
“The country’s being very clear right now. They do not want Joe Biden to be the president. And they don’t want Donald Trump to be the president,” Phillips emphasized as he addressed the crowd huddled to see him. “Whichever party breaks that logjam will win the White House, the Senate and the House.”
And Phillips told Fox News that his mission is “to demonstrate that Americans are sick and tired of the nonsense. That we have a crisis that cannot be addressed by either Donald Trump or frankly, President Biden, and it’s time for change.”
The president nearly a year ago proposed a nominating calendar for the 2024 election cycle that booted New Hampshire from its traditional lead-off primary position and replaced it with South Carolina, a much more diverse state where Black voters play an outsized role in Democratic politics.
Biden came in a dismal fifth in the 2020 New Hampshire primary, but a few weeks later won South Carolina in a landslide. The victory boosted the former vice president toward the Democratic nomination and eventually the White House.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) earlier this year overwhelmingly approved the calendar change proposed by the president. But New Hampshire leapfrogged South Carolina to honor a longtime state law that mandates the state holds the first primary. With the state holding an unsanctioned Democratic contest, the president’s re-election campaign earlier this autumn announced that Biden wouldn’t file to place his name on the New Hampshire ballot.
Top Democrats in New Hampshire launched a write-in campaign for Biden in order to prevent any electoral embarrassment in the state’s presidential primary. Support for the write-in effort was heavily on display Friday night at the state Democratic Party’s annual fundraising gala, which Phillips also attended.
Speaker after speaker encouraged those attending the function, many who were wearing “write-in Joe Biden” stickers, to do just that.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who headlined the event, topped his speech by saying “there’s an important primary next month.” He then held up a pen to hammer home his point that voters should write in the president’s name on the ballot.
Asked about the reception he received at the dinner, Phillips told Fox News, “I got a lot of cold shoulders.”
And pointing to the move last week by the Florida Democratic Party to keep Phillips – as well as best-selling author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson, who is making her second straight White House run – off their presidential primary ballot, he charged, “What we’re seeing in Florida, what we’ve seen in the past from the GOP, is disenfranchising, it’s causing division and anger and I think risk to the country that we have to solve fast.”