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Rep. Dean Phillips tried to recruit Democratic governors to challenge Biden before launching primary campaign 

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Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) reached out to several Democratic governors earlier this year imploring them to challenge President Biden in the 2024 primary elections before launching his own long-shot campaign against the incumbent.

Phillips’ outreach proved fruitless and only staffers for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker would listen to his pitch.

“They had their staff take the call,” Phillips said in an interview with the Atlantic, published Friday.

“They wouldn’t take the call.”

“Gretchen Whitmer’s aide was very thoughtful … JB Pritzker’s delegate was somewhat unfriendly,” the Democratic presidential hopeful added. 

Phillips, who kicked off his campaign to unseat the 80-year-old president on Friday, also noted during the wide-ranging interview that he found the behavior of his opponent’s troubled son, Hunter Biden, to be “appalling.” 

The 53-year-old first son was indicted on three felony gun charges last month, and Hunter could face additional criminal cases in DC and Los Angeles for tax fraud and illegal foreign lobbying, among other potential counts.

Rep. Dean Phillips reached out to several Democratic governors earlier this year imploring them to challenge President Biden in the 2024 primary elections before launching his own long-shot campaign.
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Phillips, 54, argued that President Biden, while acting “heroically” by supporting his son through his legal travails, is now regarded by voters to be “as corrupt as Trump.” 

Polling numbers testify to the Minnesota Democrat’s claim. 

A Fox News poll from earlier this month shows 40% of voters believe Biden did something unlawful when it comes to his son’s foreign transactions, up from 38% in August and 35% in December 2022. 

“I’m looking at polling data, and I’m looking at all of it. The president’s numbers are just not good — and they’re not getting any better,” Democratic strategist James Carville told the Atlantic of what he conveyed to Phillips in conversations before his campaign launch. 

Phillips’ outreach proved fruitless and only staffers for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker would listen to his pitch.
AP

“I talk to a lot of people who do a lot of congressional-level polling and state polling, and they’re all saying the same thing. There’s not an outlier; there’s not another opinion … The question is, has the country made up its mind?” Carville said, adding that leading Democrats agree with his bleak assessment of Biden.

“Nobody is saying, ‘James, you’re wrong’ … They’re saying, ‘James, you can’t say that,’” he said. 

Former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), who now serves as  Biden’s campaign co-chair, slammed Phillips’ attempt to primary Biden as a “vanity project” for the Minnesota Democrat, adding that the congressman doesn’t “give a crap” about the Democratic Party. 

He also signaled that Biden could lose the 2024 general election because of Phillips’ insurgent campaign. 

Pritzker was among the candidates Phillips pitched to.
AP

“History tells us when the sitting president faces a primary challenge, it weakens him for the general election,” Richmond told the Atlantic.

“No party has ever survived that.”

Phillips revealed that if his campaign is struggling for support by March 6, 2024 – the day after Super Tuesday, when 15 states and American Samoa will hold primary elections and caucuses – he will end his candidacy and “get behind the president in a very big way.”

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