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Dean Phillips drops long-shot bid, backs Biden

Dean Phillips drops long-shot bid, backs Biden

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) suspended his Democratic presidential bid after failing to gain any traction while positioning himself as an alternative to President Biden.

He said that “it is clear that alternative is not me” in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“And it is clear that Joe Biden is OUR candidate and OUR opportunity to demonstrate what type of country America is and intends to be,” he wrote.

Phillips, who mounted a late White House bid in October, was running as an alternative to the embattled front-runner, pitching himself as a generational-change candidate ahead of a likely rematch between Biden and former President Trump.

But in the end he failed to inspire enough voters to spark what he hoped would be a victorious insurgent path to the nomination. His decision to exit the race came after losing across the board on Super Tuesday.

The Minnesota congressman, a House moderate, had trouble distinguishing his pitch from Biden’s despite attempting to run to the left of him by adding progressive stances including “Medicare for All” to his platform late last year. Results showed that voters weren’t convinced that the representative who voted in unison with Biden’s agenda could offer something substantially different than the experienced president.

He nonetheless prioritized New Hampshire as a retail politics-heavy primary where he could conceivably pull off a strong finish. In a historic move, Biden did not appear on the ballot after prioritizing South Carolina ahead of the traditionally first-in-the-nation contest, giving Phillips a possible opening. Yet despite the president’s absence on the ballot, a move supported by the Democratic National Committee, Phillips did not attract enough voters himself.

The 54-year-old lawmaker did get noticed by a handful of establishment Democrats and donors who watched Biden sink low in approval ratings, hoping for another option from the party’s ranks. Phillips ultimately lagged behind the president by wide double-digit margins.

He showed signs of progress this month as he and other outsiders sharpened early-state pitches. He earned a sizable $1 million donation from billionaire donor Bill Ackman and was endorsed by former Democratic candidate and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, with whom he campaigned in the state known for picking anti-establishment contenders. Another indication of his leftward tilt came with his boosting by Jeff Weaver, a former top campaign hand to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the two-time progressive presidential candidate.

Despite his later efforts, Phillips was not embraced by progressives. His shaky argument for populism fell flat, particularly with the influential Progressive Caucus within the House. Although various members had been notably unhappy with Biden, Phillips was not seen as a top tier choice.

Throughout most of the primary, it appeared at times that Phillips was shouting into the abyss, trying to get attention without an audience. That became particularly apparent when his constant reminders about Biden’s lack of popularity and age did not catch on beyond a small faction of voices online.

When Phillips’ electoral prospects looked especially bleek, he appeared openly exasperated with his own party. As the results of Tuesday showed a doomed path forward, he became more cynical.

“Congratulations to Joe Biden, Uncommitted, Marianne Williamson, and Nikki Haley for demonstrating more appeal to Democratic Party loyalists than me,” he wrote on X about his White House competitors.

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