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Rep. Dean Phillips, Minnesota Democrat, says he is suspending presidential campaign

Rep. Dean Phillips suspends presidential bid in Democratic race
Rep. Dean Phillips suspends presidential bid in Democratic race 00:38

MINNEAPOLIS — Following sound defeats in 2024 presidential primaries across the country, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips says he is exiting the Democratic field.

Phillips made the announcement in an interview with Chad Hartman on WCCO Radio Wednesday.

"Clearly and convincingly, Democratic primary voters have opined that I'm not that guy," Phillips said. "And while indeed the country is pretty clear that they want alternatives, the fact of the matter is people have registered their opinion."

After Super Tuesday, Phillips hadn't earned a single delegate in the primaries. In his home state, he earned fewer primary votes than "uncommitted," which garnered 45,000 votes, due in part to a movement to protest President Joe Biden's handling of the violence in Gaza.

Phillips also told Hartman he is endorsing Biden.

"We only have two of them and it's gonna be Donald Trump or Joe Biden," he said. "And while indeed I think the president is at a stage in life where his capacities are diminished, he is still a man of competency and decency and integrity, and the alternative, Donald Trump, is a very dangerous, dangerous man."

Addressing rumors of an independent run — or potentially teaming up with Republican Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the race Wednesday as well — Phillips said he was hoping for a third-party challenger to arise, but it won't be him.

"Whether I would have been party of a unity ticket is neither here nor there," he said, later adding, "I don't think a third-party ticket would be successful."

Phillips' campaign

Phillips launched his campaign in October in New Hampshire, positioning himself as a younger alternative to the 81-year-old incumbent Biden. He said he was running for "the exhausted majority" and cited issues such as the nation's debt, military spending and high taxes.  

Phillips said in November he would not seek re-election to Congress. He defeated Republican Erik Paulsen in the 3rd District in 2018 and won re-election in 2022. Since he launched his presidential campaign, several candidates have come forward to vie for his seat. Democrats Sen. Kelly Morrison and Ron Harris, a Democratic National Executive Committee member, have announced their bids. Republicans Quentin Wittrock and Blaize Harty have also entered the race.

Phillips laid off a large number of his campaign staff in early February, saying he "found it almost impossible to raise enough to do this campaign the way I want."  

Before getting into politics, Phillips was heir to his stepfather's Phillips Distilling Company empire, serving as the company's president. He also ran the gelato maker Talenti. He lives in Wayzata with his wife, Annalise, and has two adult daughters from a previous marriage.

Democratic analyst Abou Amara said Phillips' presidential run was "one of the most strategic blunders I have seen in professional politics in my career."

"Someone who was a rising star, who was aligned kind of where the center of the country and the center of Minnesota is and just to see them kind of burn it away over kind of a vanity exercise is just something that's very difficult to understand," Amara said.

Note: The video above originally aired March 5, 2024.

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