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    Dean Phillips ends longshot primary challenge against President Biden

    Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) announced Wednesday that he would suspend his long-shot presidential campaign, giving up his primary challenge of President Biden after struggling to convince Democrats that he would perform better than Biden in a race against Republican Donald Trump.

    After making a late entrance into the primaries, Phillips was roundly rejected by many Democratic voters in key early races. Biden, despite facing some widely held concerns about his age and job approval, dominated those contests. The results reflected how little appetite there was for the alternative and sometimes shifting pitch Phillips made. Phillips acknowledged his campaign’s shortcomings in an interview with local Minneapolis radio host Chad Hartman, saying that he endorses Biden.

    Phillips’s announcement, the same day former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said she is suspending her campaign, is another indication that the cycle is shifting to the general election between Biden and Trump, who dominated their Super Tuesday primaries, as their parties have rallied around the expected nominees.

    “While I surely had hoped and expected this endeavor to generate more of a return and more joy and more hopefulness, it’s clear that in a country that still celebrates democracy like I do, that people have opined,” Phillips said.

    The Minnesota congressman had spent much of his campaign arguing that Biden’s low approval ratings and age would hurt the 81-year-old incumbent and endanger Democrats’ chances of holding on to the White House in a matchup against Trump. But Phillips, who faced a sometimes hostile or tepid reaction from voters on the campaign trail, never gained much traction even in areas where he concentrated his efforts.

    When Phillips launched his campaign in late October, he acknowledged he was an underdog who would face hurdles. He set his sights on New Hampshire, campaigning in a state that held its primary first in defiance of Democratic National Committee rules and where Biden opted not to be on the ballot. Biden still defeated him easily as a write-in candidate, with the president’s allies urging voters to turn out and give him a symbolic show of support. Biden won about 64 percent of the vote, compared to Phillips’s nearly 20 percent.

    Later, in South Carolina’s Democratic primary, where Biden won more than 96 percent of the vote, Phillips was running third, with under 2 percent of the vote. Ahead of the Michigan primary, he announced he was cutting a substantial number of campaign staff members but maintained he was staying in the race until the Democratic National Convention in August. He lost in Michigan with nearly 3 percent, far behind Biden at 81 percent and “uncommitted,” which gained 13 percent. Biden won every Super Tuesday race, including Phillips’s home state of Minnesota.

    After the series of defeats, Phillips acknowledged his lack of popularity, posting “Congratulations to Joe Biden, Uncommitted, Marianne Williamson, and Nikki Haley for demonstrating more appeal to Democratic Party loyalists than me” on X, formerly Twitter, on the night of Super Tuesday.

    Phillips, 55, was relatively unknown outside of Washington and Minnesota, where he had flipped his congressional district in 2018 and previously ran businesses including his family’s distilling company and Talenti Gelato. His firm support for Biden until a year before he announced his campaign also put him at odds with Democrats who argued Phillips had no case to make against the president’s policy agenda.

    Beyond taking Biden on over his age, Phillips said he felt like the president could have done more to drive down inflation and reduce costs for Americans.

    He focused much of his early efforts on introducing himself to voters, hosting town halls in New Hampshire, calling small donors himself and traveling around in a bus emblazoned with his slogan, “Everyone’s invited.”

    Before jumping in himself, Phillips had repeatedly called on other Democrats to join the primary. When no one did, Phillips stepped down from his leadership role as the co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, citing his differences with others in the party, and began a run against Biden himself.

    On the campaign trail, he often pointed to polling that showed a generic Democrat would do far better against Trump than Biden would.

    “I’ve never aspired to be generic,” he told Dartmouth College students in November. “But I’ll be your generic Democrat if that means I can defeat Donald Trump much more ably than President Biden can.”

    Asked when he would consider dropping out of the race, Phillips told The Washington Post in mid-November that he intended to win but would cede the race to whoever could beat Trump.

    “If it is apparent that there’s somebody better positioned to beat Donald Trump, whether that’s President Biden, whether that’s me, whether it’s another candidate, I will get behind whomever is best positioned,” he said.



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