President Joe Biden has gained a new Democrat challenger in the 2024 primary, and this one is different than the rest. Unlike Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (who is now running as an independent) and Marianne Williamson, both of whom have long been on the fringes of the party, Rep. Dean Phillips is an active Democrat politician who currently holds office.
Phillips, a congressional member from Minnesota, announced his candidacy on Thursday, touting his supposed moderate credentials and claiming he can unite the party and the nation.
Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) announced Thursday he is running for president against President Biden.
The Congressman confirmed he would be running against Biden in the Democratic primary because the 2024 election after previously signaling he would not do so.
“I will not sit still, I will not be quiet in the face of numbers that are so clearly saying that we’re going to be facing an emergency next November,” Phillips told CBS News’ Robert Costa Thursday.
Phillips’ argument is essentially that Biden is on track to lose to Donald Trump, and that he’s not going to sit back and watch that happen. He could be right on that point given the competitive polling we’ve seen over the last several months. Of course, the caution for Republicans, some of whom have been lulled into a false sense of security, is that we simply won’t know how the public will respond to a possible guilty verdict(s) next year for Trump until it happens – if it happens.
Regardless, what makes this especially interesting is who is reportedly behind the campaign. According to another report, The Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt, infamous for his late-night online meltdowns, is advising Phillips.
Steve Schmidt, a top campaign strategist to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, is working with Phillips, which several Democrats called a “red flag.” In 2020, Schmidt also advised former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, another wealthy businessperson who considered an Independent presidential run.
Calling that a “red flag” is an understatement. Schmidt is the Vanderbilt football of the political world. He’s got the lofty credentials but when it’s game time, embarrassment is sure to follow. If Schmidt is the driving force behind Phillips’ campaign, that’s not a good sign for anyone involved. I wouldn’t trust a co-founder of The Lincoln Project to win a race for dog catcher.
Still, Phillips’ could cause issues for Biden because he’s looking to drive a wedge through the primary process. New Hampshire Democrats lost their first-in-the-nation primary status after Biden and the DNC colluded to put South Carolina first in line, the very state that helped save Biden’s then-collapsing campaign in 2020. Where is Phillips’ centering his campaign? In New Hampshire.
None of this means he’s a serious challenger, but he’s one that could cause headaches for Biden that Marianne Williamson can’t due to him currently being in office. I expect lots of consternation from the Democrat establishment over Phillips’ move.