Joe Biden team is “annoyed” about Dean Phillips: The former president now has a primary challenger, but it doesn’t appear his campaign operation is particularly worried.
Joe Biden’s New Problem
What does President Joe Biden’s team think about the news that Dean Phillips, an obscure Congressman from Minnesota, has launched a primary campaign against him?
According to a CNN reporter this week, Biden’s advisers are both “annoyed” and “dismissive” of Phillips’ move to challenge the president.
The same story, however, stated that the Biden team’s internal polling is similar to the public polling that shows the president very close in the polls against former President Trump. They do believe, however, that Joe Biden can exceed expectations, just as Democrats did in the 2022 midterms.
“In uncertain times — globally, on the economy — when you see the former president, with all of the crises, with a House that’s so dysfunctional, I think people naturally have a little bit of nervousness,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in the CNN story. “Democrats by nature are a little bit skittish. They get themselves worried. They work themselves up. They talk in their groups, amongst one another — just stop it.”
The CNN story also stated that there is little to no chance that anyone other than Biden and Kamala Harris will be on the Democratic ticket in 2024.
There has been, per the story, a “dangerous feedback loop between Democratic leaders and political reporters daydreaming about a potentially dramatic election. Doubts have fed more doubts. News reports quoting politicians and voters and operatives questioning whether candidates other than Biden or Harris will emerge have led to more people asking those questions, dampening the president’s and vice president’s popularity and slowing grassroots fundraising.”
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, one of the Democrats rumored as a potential candidate despite backing Joe Biden, reiterated that stance this week.
“The train is out of the station. It’s time for everyone to get on board. There is so much at stake in this upcoming election, from fundamental rights to our democracy itself,” the Michigan governor told CNN this week. “We’ve got to stop hand-wringing and stop playing out different scenarios. It’s a waste of energy.”
Indeed, none of those scenarios seem especially plausible, including one in which California Gov. Gavin Newsom was to appoint Harris to the state’s then-vacant Senate seat, thus opening up the vice presidency for someone else.
Regardless of who wins in 2024, a wide-open primary in both parties is likely in 2028, which would give the likes of Harris, Whitmer, Newsom, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro a shot to run for president and become the post-Biden future of the party.
This week, Phillips talked a bit with Puck over his decision to challenge the president.
As noted in the piece, Phillips is not running to Joe Biden’s left or his right, but rather on the notion that it’s time for the president to step aside and be replaced by a different generation of leaders. The Congressman’s campaign is being led by Steve Schmidt, a longtime Republican strategist who led John McCain’s 2008 campaign, and later was a leader of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project.
“My first rationale is simply that President Biden is not going to beat Donald Trump, in my estimation,” the candidate said. “I am participating in a time-proven process by which candidates introduce themselves. There is a path to winning New Hampshire, a need for it, a demand for it.”
In the Puck interview, Phillips added that before he began running himself, he had personally called on both Whitmer and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, both of whom have endorsed Biden, to run, but “ neither of them took or returned his calls.”
Author Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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