(Bloomberg) -- Representative Dean Phillips said he would challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination, seizing on worries about the economy and Biden’s age.
Most Read from Bloomberg
Saying he would represent “America’s exhausted majority,” the Minnesota congressman laid out a populist Democratic platform focusing on household economic issues on Friday. His campaign slogan is “Make America Affordable Again,” which is a play both on former President Donald Trump’s political movement and high voter dissatisfaction with the economy, especially with inflation and sustained high prices.
Phillips said he is running because he’s worried about Biden’s ability to beat Trump. He said he appreciates Biden and is grateful for his service.
Phillips, 54, also cited Biden’s age as a reason for getting into the race. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats say the the 80-year-old president is too old to run for reelection. Trump, 77, has also attacked Biden for his age and stamina, despite being only a few years younger.
“I think it’s time for a new generation,” Phillips told CBS News Friday. “I think the time is now because I think four years from now it might be too late.”
Intra-party insurgencies are rarely successful at the presidential level, but can weaken the incumbent, a warning sign for Biden who is polling lower than Trump in several key swing states.
Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan’s strong showing in New Hampshire in 1992 — attacking President George H.W. Bush for abandoning his “read my lips” pledge not to raise taxes — contributed to Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton later that year.
Phillips’s entry in the race effectively fills a role abandoned by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the attorney and activist who dropped out of the Democratic primary to run as an independent.
Phillips now faces many of the same hurdles Kennedy cited as reasons for ending his bid as a Democrat. The rules of both parties protect incumbents, and Biden has pushed the party to give South Carolina — which helped solidify Biden’s path to the nomination in 2020 — more influence.
Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.