Rep. Phillips noncommittal on running for president

Rep. Dean Phillips considering presidential run

Rep. Dean Phillips considering presidential run

Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips is creating a buzz in the 2024 presidential contest just like he did a year ago. Last year he was the first Democratic member of Congress to suggest President Joe Biden should not run for reelection. This year he’s openly considering running against Biden.

“I think I’m well-positioned to be president of the United States,” Phillips said on “Face the Nation” on CBS Sunday before immediately casting doubt on whether he will run. “I do not believe I’m well-positioned to run for it right now. People who are should jump in because we need to meet the moment.”

Phillips said he’d be a good candidate because he represents the majority of Americans in the political middle.

“I listen to Democrats. I listen to Republicans. Independents. And I discovered that everybody wants the same thing. Everybody. We want to be safe. We want security both economic and otherwise. We want opportunity and we want unity,” he said.

However, to reach those general election voters Phillips would need to beat Biden in the primaries. Political scientist Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School says that would be nearly impossible. 

“The primary voters are liberal,” Jacobs told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “They are not excited about Joe Biden, but they certainly are going to prefer him over a problem solver who prides himself on bipartisanship.”

Beyond the philosophical differences, Jacobs says Phillips would face the daunting task of running against the Democratic Party machine.

“Dean Phillips has no chance of winning,” Jacobs says. “If he was serious he’d already be up and running with a big staff, he’d have fundraising. None of that is happening.”

In 1968 another Minnesota politician, Sen. Eugene McCarthy, ran against Democratic incumbent President Lyndon Johnson as a protest against Johnson’s support of the Vietnam War. There were a number of factors that year, but after McCarthy had early primary success Johnson dropped out. Another Minnesotan, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, became the Democratic candidate and he lost a close race to Republican Richard Nixon.

There is no war to protest this time, but Phillips says the big issue is moving on from candidates in or close to their 80s in age.

“The Vietnam of this election I think everybody knows,” Phillips said Sunday, “It’s about turning the page to the future. That is the Vietnam of right now. That’s the quagmire in which we find ourselves.”

Phillips says American voters need more choices and cites a New York Times poll that shows 55% of voters want more choices.

“I’m a lifelong passionate Democrat inspired by Hubert Humphrey and Martin Luther King,” he said. “Democrats are telling me they want not a coronation, but they want a competition.”

Still, if Biden wins the nomination, he will have Phillips’ vote. “I love the man. He is competent. He is honorable. His integrity I believe is unvarnished.”