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Democratic Rep. Phillips launches a White House bid, challenging Biden

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., walks down the House steps after the last votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday, April 20, 2023.

Bill Clark | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

After months of hinting, Rep. Dean Phillips announced Thursday that he would challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for president.

The Minnesota Democrat made the announcement in an interview with CBS News. Asked if he was running for president next year, Phillips said, “I am. I have to.”

“I will not sit still, I will not be quiet in the face of numbers that are so clearly saying we’re going to be facing an emergency next November,” Phillips added.

Phillips, 54, has been a staunch critic of Biden’s re-election bid, citing a want for a younger leader to replace the 80-year-old president, and has previously called on other candidates to challenge him.

“As a Democrat, I adore Joe Biden. He saved this country. He can cement his legacy,” Phillips said in an August interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “My real call to action right now is not about me. The call to action is to ask the president to pass the torch.”

“Enter the primary, my friends,” Phillips added later in the interview. “Everybody who is on the bench, meet the moment. Don’t wait five years. We need you now.”

The move comes as Biden faces stagnant approval ratings amid voter concerns about the economy and the president’s age, though the White House has been dismissive toward a possible Phillips presidential run in the past.

When asked by a reporter during a press briefing Tuesday if the president had a reaction to reports of Phillips preparing to enter the race, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she would not speak to electoral politics, but appreciated the congressman’s “almost 100” percent support of Biden.

Phillips stepped down from a House Democratic leadership position at the beginning of October, saying it felt appropriate to move aside to avoid distractions because his “convictions relative to the 2024 presidential race are incongruent with the majority of my caucus.”

The third-term congressman is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers that aims to work across the aisle. Before serving in Congress, Phillips worked for small startups, led his family’s business and helped build Talenti Gelato’s business, according to the congressman’s biography on his website.

Phillips flipped his current congressional seat blue when he was elected in 2018 by defeating incumbent Erik Paulsen 55.7% to 44.3%.

Ron Harris, a member of the Democratic National Committee, jumped into the race earlier this month for the congressional seat currently held by Phillips.

“Our community deserves strong, effective, Democratic leadership ready to stand with President @JoeBiden & deliver for working families,” Harris posted to X upon announcing his run.

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