Aug 6, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Dean Phillips still mulling primary bid against Biden

Rep. Dean Phillips. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) remains undecided on a primary bid against President Biden but is not currently "well-positioned" for a run, he said in an interview Sunday.

Why it matters: The three-term congressman has refused to throw his support behind the president, advocating for a robust Democratic primary.

What he's saying: "I think I'm well-positioned to be President of the United States, I do not believe I'm well-positioned to run for it right now," Phillips said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

  • Citing polling that shows about half of Democratic primary voters prefer an alternative to the 80-year-old president, Phillips called for "those who are well positioned, well prepared, have good character and competency, they know who they are, to jump in."
  • Phillips called Biden "an amazing man," but said the "only way to determine" if he can beat former President Trump is to have a contested primary.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris, he said, is "absolutely qualified," but he wants "as many people as humanly possible" to jump into the primary.

State of play: Biden currently faces just two major Democratic challengers – Robert Kennedy Jr., a lawyer and vaccine skeptic, and Marianne Williamson, a spiritual guru who ran for president in 2020.

  • Phillips said that while he is pleased Biden has rivals, Kennedy, his closest competitor, is "not the one that I'm looking for. I don't believe him to be a Democrat."
  • He also called for that Cornel West, a prominent left-wing scholar running for the Green Party nomination, to instead run in the Democratic primary, arguing that a strong Green candidate would siphon votes from the Democratic nominee.

The backdrop: Phillips met with donors in New York City this week about a potential presidential bid and has said he's been encouraged to run.

  • "Democrats are telling me that they want, not a coronation, but they want a competition," he said Sunday.
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