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Congressman says Biden shouldn't run again

Minnesota congressman becomes first high-profile Democrat to call for a different candidate in 2024

MINNEAPOLIS — The latest opinion polls show most Americans don't want a Trump-Biden rematch in 2024, and Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips shares that sentiment.

Rep. Phillips, a moderate Democrat who represents the 3rd Congressional District in the Twin Cities western suburbs, said it's time for Biden and other aging Democrat leaders to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders.

"As we navigate domestic division and build a bright, prosperous, and secure future for America, I believe it’s time for a new generation of dynamic Democratic leadership in Congress and in the White House," Phillips said in a statement released by his campaign Friday.

"Under no condition can we afford another four years of Donald Trump, and while Joe Biden was clearly the right candidate at the right time two years ago, it’s my hope that both major parties put forward new candidates of principle, civility, and integrity in 2024."

This echoes the remarks he made during a Thursday telephone interview with WCCO 830-AM Radio's Chad Hartman.

"I think he’s a man of decency, of good principle, of compassion, of empathy, and of strength. But to answer your question directly, I think the country would be well-served by a new generation of compelling, well prepared, dynamic Democrats to step up."

Phillips said he didn't set out to make news this week, but also wanted to give a direct answer when asked about it during a 10-minute wide-ranging interview.

He mentioned that President Biden turns 80 in November, and the top three Democrats in the U.S. House — Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn — are already past age 80.

Despite some major legislative victories addressing the COVID recovery and the nation's infrastructure needs, the president's approval ratings have hit an all-time low and there's a lot of uncertainty about the U.S. economy after two straight quarters of decline.

Some Democrats worry Biden will drag them down in the 2022 Midterm Elections and may be vulnerable in 2024. But those aren't the only factors working a second Biden run, according to Hamline University professor and political analyst David Schultz. 

He said many voters rallied around the former Vice President in 2020 because he was the anti-Trump, someone who could bring calm in a stormy time.

"He was the consensus candidate of 2020. Few people picked him early as their first choice, but he was the candidate progressives and moderates could gather around in the hope of beating Donald Trump," Schultz explained.

"Voters viewed him as the transitional president. By transitional I mean he was the person who was going to get the Democrats back into power, run one term, and then transition over to whoever would be maybe the vice president."

Schultz points out much can change in two years, noting that things initially looked bleak for President Ronald Reagan in 1982. But the economy turned around and he ended up winning in a historic landslide in 1984 over former Vice President Walter Mondale.

The challenge for any candidate looking to replace Biden as the party's standard bearer in 2024 will be uniting different factions of the Democratic Party.

"You’ve got the older Democratic Party – the party of Hillary, Biden and others – and the new generations of Millennials and Gen-Z’s who are far more liberal. And trying to unite these two groups together and hold them together is going to be difficult."

Phillips will be running for his third term in Congress in November. He faces a challenge from Republican newcomer Tom Weiler, who moved back to Minnesota after a 20-year stint in the US Navy.

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