Democratic congressman Dean Phillips, who recently joined the 2024 presidential election race as a challenger to Joe Biden, says he is not running “against” the president.
The 54-year-old said that despite having respect for the president, should an election be held tomorrow then Mr Biden would “lose” – which he described as “an existential threat to the future of the United States of America”.
Mr Phillips, who has represented Minnesota’s 3rd District since 2019, officially announced his candidacy for president on Friday, the final day for candidates to submit paperwork to appear on New Hampshire’s primary ballot next year.
Speaking to NBC’s Meet The Press, about his decision to run, Mr Phillips said: “Right now, if this election was held today, President Biden would lose, and it is an existential threat to the future of the United States of America. That will not happen under my watch.”
He continued: “I’m not running against Joe Biden ... I’m running for the future. Yes, we have some policy differences, but I’m a proud Democrat.”
Mr Phillips has previously hailed Mr Biden as “a president of great competence and success” but said there were certain aspects of his administration – such as circumstances at the US southern border – where the Democrats “have not done the job”.
“I will not demean the president; I will not undermine him,” the congressman told NBC.
“Whoever the Democratic nominee is, I believe it will be me. But if it is someone else, I promise to do everything I can — every ounce of energy, every moment of my day — to ensure that he or she is elected, because that’s how important it is right now.”
BREAKING: Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) is running for president, challenging Pres. Biden in the Democratic primary race.
He tells @costareports and @CBSMornings he won't "be quiet" as polling numbers "are so clearly saying that we’re going to be facing an emergency next November.” pic.twitter.com/7tP0QJaKgJ
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) October 27, 2023
Mr Phillips’s candidacy is widely considered to be a long shot with no realistic chance of leading to him supplanting Mr Biden as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer in what is widely expected to be a rematch against former president Donald Trump.
But it is the possibility of a repeat of the Biden-Trump face-off that Mr Biden won nearly three years ago that is animating Mr Phillips’ decision to make a quixotic run against his party’s leader.
In a succession of media interviews, the Minnesota congressman has cast himself as a younger alternative to the 80-year-old incumbent.
Announcing his campaign he told CBS “I have to” adding: “I think President Biden has done a spectacular job for our country, but it’s not about the past, it’s an election about the future.”