Phillips defends primary challenge, knocks Newsom for running 'shadow campaign'

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Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who is challenging President Biden in the Democratic primary, knocked Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday for running a “shadow campaign” for president.

Phillips presented himself in an interview with NewsNation host Chris Cuomo on “CUOMO” as a candidate brave enough to challenge Biden, who he suggested would lose a general election race to former President Trump, the leading GOP nominee.

In that context, he criticized Newsom for running a shadow campaign but not actually being in the race. Phillips also criticized Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) who Cuomo had interviewed earlier. Manchin is retiring from the Senate and has flirted with running for president.

Democrats know “the consequence of, of Joe Biden taking on Donald Trump, they know he’s going to lose, and what are they doing?” Phillips said, arguing that many Democrats want someone other than Biden as the Democratic candidate running for president.

Manchin, he said, was “heeing and hawing” on a presidential run.

Democrats in general are ” doing what Senator Manchin just did with you two moments ago, heeing and hawing, dancing around, we have a governor from California who’s traveling the world running a shadow campaign.”

“That’s the culture of spinelessness, of people protecting their professional careers rather than the principles that make this country so remarkable,” Phillips said.

Phillips has faced backlash from within his own party since he announced he was running to take on Biden. He has previously compared his primary run to Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) challenge of President Carter in 1980.

Phillips also said he wasn’t trying to make Biden look weak by running against him.

“I don’t think Dean Phillips has anything to do with the fact that President Biden is losing nationwide. He’s down in five of six of the battleground states. His approval ratings are now at historical lows, and is going to lose to President Trump,” he said. “I don’t think I did that. In fact, I did just the opposite. I tried to help him, voted for his policies, was a member of House Democratic leadership and try to market those policies. I think he’s a good man.”

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