Democratic lawmaker mulling run against Biden says voters want 'competition' not a 'coronation'
WASHINGTON — Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who is considering a long-shot primary bid against President Joe Biden in the 2024 Democratic primary, said Democrats are looking for “competition” in the field.
“Democrats are telling me that they want, not a coronation, but they want a competition,” Phillips told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Phillips has been meeting with Democratic donors about a potential primary challenge amid concerns about Biden’s age and whether he is the best fit to serve. While there are other candidates in the 2024 Democratic primary, Phillips would be the first member of Congress to challenge Biden for the nomination.
Phillips said he considers himself “well positioned to be president of the United States” but not “well positioned to run for it right now.” Instead, he called on other Democrats who think otherwise to also enter the race.
“My call is to those who are well positioned, well prepared, have good character and competency, they know who they are, to jump in, because Democrats and the country need competition. It makes everything better,” Phillips said.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., perhaps the most well known presidential candidate challenging Biden, is not the type of competition that Phillips said he is “looking for.”
“I don’t believe him to be a Democrat,” Phillips said of Kennedy, who is an anti-vaccine activist. Kennedy drew widespread condemnation in July when he claimed COVID-19 was “targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people” while Ashkenazi Jewish people and Chinese people were more immune to the virus.
Phillips also took aim at left-wing activist Cornel West, who is running as a third-party candidate. West’s candidacy, Phillips said, could take votes from the Democratic nominee and consequently hand Republicans the White House.
The Democrat from Minnesota declined to provide a timeline as to when he would make a formal decision but pointed to the 2024 Republican presidential field as an example of healthy competition.
“We have 12 Republicans as options for Republican primary voters. Right now, we only have three in the Democratic side. I believe in competition. We're the Democratic Party. Democracy means the freedom to make choices, and we don't have many of them,” Phillips said.