Dean Phillips and his insurgent Minnesota Nice campaign could be a problem for President Joe Biden, based on the upstart congressman’s packed house in Concord Friday.
Phillips is the only elected Democrat running to unseat Biden in the primary, saying he got into the race out of concern for the 81-year-old incumbent’s age and poor poll numbers.
“I did not intend to be here, but I am running to be president of the United States,” Phillips told the standing-room crowd at Brothers Cortado, a downtown coffee shop.
About 150 people came out on a frigid night, squeezing into the coffee shop for a chance to hear him. At times defiant, in a nice way, Phillips said his campaign is the last thing the Democratic Party wants in the state the party tried to cancel.
The Democratic National Committee’s attempt to strip New Hampshire’s first in the nation primary in order to protect Biden appears to have backfired. Biden supporters have launched a write-in campaign to save Biden from the embarrassment of losing a primary in his own party. Phillips has been running a proactive retail campaign, and best-selling author Marianne Williamson is pushing hard as well.
“The Democrats tried to tell you this is ‘meaningless,’” Phillips said, referencing a statement from the Democratic National Committee. “There is nothing more antithetical to our democracy than telling you your votes don’t count.”
“Tell the DNC they can’t do this to you,” Phillips said.
Phillips’ message of reaching for pragmatic solutions and finding a middle ground with opponents struck a chord with the Concord crowd. Phillips said he wants a national healthcare system so that people caught in the trap of drug addiction can get care and recovery. He wants to reduce gun violence by focusing on mental health solutions and not gun bans. And he wants to shore up social security by lifting the earnings cap for wealthy Americans.
The reason the congressional Democrat is taking on his party and possibly destroying his own future in politics is the fact he does not think Biden is up to the job. Trump, who Phillips said ought to have been impeached after the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol Riot, is too dangerous to be let back in the White House. Phillips does not think Biden can beat Trump in a matchup.
Phillips tried to deliver this theme in as nice a way as possible.
“We all love Joe Biden, but we know he’s in decline,” Phillips said.
Phillips delivered his stump speech and answered questions with his “aw shucks” demeanor. At times joking, occasionally serious, but always striving to be nice. His big idea for the White House is hosting regular Americans of all political persuasions for “common ground” dinners.
Even with the sign of a late surge, Phillips said his campaign might be further along now if he changed his personality.
“I could have been in a much better position now if, when I started this run, I had been willing to do one thing, be a total jerk,” Phillips said.
Phillip’s campaign may not last beyond Tuesday, but he said Granite Staters have the chance to shock the DNC and the country. Phillips is making a big bet on New Hampshire, and he faces a long shot on Tuesday, almost as big a long shot as getting a nice guy into the White House.