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Biden campaigns in Dean Phillips’ backyard, but won’t say his name

President Joe Biden walks across the South Lawn before boarding Marine One and departing the White House on Nov. 1, 2023.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Wednesday will tout his accomplishments and rub elbows with wealthy donors in Minneapolis, the political backyard of his newly announced 2024 primary challenger, Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips.

The White House says the trip is intended to highlight how Biden’s agenda is helping rural communities. But it is also an unmistakable show of political force in a Democratic stronghold.

Biden plans to stop at a family-run farm south of Minneapolis before attending a campaign fundraiser with several prominent Minnesota Democrats.

The Biden campaign and allies of the president have so far barely acknowledged the 54-year-old Democratic congressman’s entrance into the race last week.

Asked Tuesday why the president chose to visit Minnesota now, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre laughed.

“I said this last week, and I’ll say this again: We are very proud of — or very thrilled and thankful to — to the congressman for voting with the president almost 100% of the time in the last two years, and I’ll leave it there,” she added.

During his visit, Biden will announce more than $5 billion in spending from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to go toward upgrading agriculture practices to address climate change, expanding high-speed broadband and rural infrastructure, as well as economic development initiatives.

Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips holds a rally outside of the New Hampshire State House after handing over his declaration of candidacy form for president to New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, in Concord, New Hampshire, on Oct. 27, 2023.

Gaelen Morse | Getty Images

Phillips, a multimillionaire serving his third term in the House, told reporters Friday that he tried to speak to Biden by phone Thursday, but the president did not take his call. Phillips also tried to call Biden three months ago, when he first considered entering the race. Biden did not speak to him then, either.

Phillips has argued a competitive primary will only strengthen Biden as a candidate if the president wins but has been less clear on the stated goals of his campaign aside from ushering in a new generation of leadership. Phillips told NBC’s “Meet the Press Now” that he wasn’t “running against Joe Biden.”

“I’m not running against President Biden,” Phillips said. “I’m running for the future.”

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