Rep. Dean Phillips’ days-old campaign for president is receiving blowback from several of his fellow Democrats.
What You Need To Know
- Rep. Dean Phillips’ days-old campaign for president is receiving blowback from several of his fellow Democrats
- Among those criticizing Phillips is Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who has accused the Minnesota congressman of disrespecting Black voters in South Carolina by focusing the early stages of his campaign on New Hampshire, which is 90% white
- In an interview Tuesday with Fox News, Phillips said he was “disappointed” in Clyburn’s remarks
- Reps. Bennie Thompson and Pramila Jayapal and Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and John Hickenlooper have also been critical of Phillips' candidacy
Among those criticizing Phillips is Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who has accused the Minnesota congressman of disrespecting Black voters in South Carolina by focusing the early stages of his campaign on New Hampshire, which is 90% white.
“South Carolinians have demonstrated for decades that we are good predictors of great presidential candidates,” Clyburn, who is a co-chair of President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, wrote Friday in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Apparently, Dean Phillips disagrees. He’s not respecting the wishes of the titular head of our Party and the loyalties of some of our Party's most reliable constituents.”
In a bid to give minority voters are greater say in the nomination process, the Democratic National Committee chose South Carolina to replace New Hampshire as the party’s first primary contest. But New Hampshire still intends to hold its primary ahead of other states. The primary is not being sanctioned by the DNC, and Biden’s name will not appear on the ballot.
In an interview Tuesday with Fox News, Phillips said he was “disappointed” in Clyburn’s remarks.
“Mr. Clyburn, a man I admire and respect, knows better,” Phillips said. “And that’s exactly the political conversation that is dividing the country right now. Anybody who knows me and will get to know me knows how much affection and appreciation I have for every community — the Black community, the brown community, LGBTQ+ community, Jewish community, Muslim community, Christian community, Buddhist community.
“All I'm doing is appearing in a great American state that has a 103-year-old tradition of assessing candidates first,” Phillips added. “That's not precluding me from getting to South Carolina or Michigan or anywhere else in the country.”
Phillips, 54, announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination Friday. He has praised Biden, but he’s pointed to polls showing most Democrats would prefer to see a nominee other than Biden in 2024 and said he believes it’s time for a new generation of leaders.
Phillips campaign adviser Steve Schmidt said Friday the congressman plans to hold 119 town halls in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan, CNN reported.
Clyburn has hardly been the only Democrat attacking Phillips.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., also said Phillips’ campaign is being “disrespectful to the voters of color” by prioritizing New Hampshire over South Carolina.
“Any serious Democratic candidate would understand that Black voters are the backbone of the Democratic Party,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., criticized Phillips after Schmidt told Politico the White House hopeful has conceded her state’s primary, whose filing deadline passed before he announced he candidacy. Schmidt said that race “doesn’t matter.”
“The path to the White House runs through Nevada — a strong, diverse, pro-union state,” Cortez Masto wrote on X. “You shouldn’t run for President if you’re not going to compete for Nevada voters, @deanbphillips.”
Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., told The Hill he doesn’t see any pathway for Phillips to win.
“I’m not sure I agree with trying to call further attention to the things the public has issues with,” Hickenlooper said.
“I don’t understand what his goals are. I just don’t understand.”
Asked about Phillips’ campaign, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, “I'm sorry, I have no idea what he's running on that's different from what President Biden is running on.”
Meanwhile, Phillips’ White House run has spurred New Hampshire Democrats to launch a write-in campaign for Biden in their state’s primary.
“New Hampshire will once again have the first-in-the-nation primary this winter,” Kathy Sullivan, former New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, said in a statement. “Writing in Joe Biden for President on the primary ballot is how New Hampshire voters can show the world our commitment to freedom, to standing up to the MAGA extremists, to keeping us safe and strong around the world, and to building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.”
In an interview Saturday on CNN, Phillips said he’s “got the Democratic National Committee competing against me, an extraordinarily large machine. Of course, it’s rigged against any challenger candidate under any circumstance.”
But he also said, “Thank goodness, we still live in a country voters make the decision.”
Biden is visiting Phillips’ home state of Minnesota on Wednesday to highlight his administration’s investments aimed at ensuring rural Americans do not have to leave their home communities to find work.