Aug 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Dem congressman wants Biden to "invite" primary challengers

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

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) said Friday he wants President Biden to welcome competition in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary.

Why it matters: Phillips told Axios he is still considering mounting his own intra-party challenge to Biden if nobody else gets in the race.

Driving the news: Phillips said in a CNN interview that Biden should "actually invite people to the primary stage" to promote competition.

  • "Not me," he said. "I think I'm able and prepared for the job, but I'm a third-term congressman, I have 60,000 Twitter followers and $250,000 in my campaign account. There are people ready to go."
  • Phillips specifically floated female officeholders and "moderate governors from the heartland" as possible Biden alternatives, but said "some have asked that I not even reference their names right now."

Yes, but: Phillips told Axios he hasn't ruled out a bid, saying his comments about his personal preparation for a run were "not closing the door, but holding it open for others."

Between the lines: Phillips has cited polling showing around half of Democrats don't want Biden as the nominee in 2024, and said Friday the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden may only worsen his standing.

  • "I don't think this touches the president," Phillips said of the investigation, but "if anybody believes this doesn't hurt [politically], you must be living in a different world than I am."
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