Biden primary challenger Dean Phillips defends the president as a 'decent man' after fallout from special counsel report

Dean Phillips
Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips.AP Photo/Charles Krupa
  • Dean Phillips defended Biden after the president responded to Robert Hur's special counsel report.

  • "He is a decent man," the Democratic presidential candidate recently said of Biden on Fox News.

  • But Phillips continued to argue that Biden needed to step aside for a next-generation leader.

Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips defended President Joe Biden as a "decent man" after the president angrily pushed back against a special counsel report that questioned his memory.

Phillips, who has argued that Democrats need a next-generation leader who will turn the page from Biden, on Friday joined the Fox News program "Jesse Watters Primetime," where he expressed some sympathy for the president's situation.

“Most patriotic Americans probably watched that press conference, saw a decent man, and I want to really defend him," Phillips said. "He is a decent man, and to have to get in front of the country and talk about his son Beau, defend himself from these charges, I thought it was a sad day."

But Phillips then pivoted and said the national conversation would be dramatically different if Biden were not seeking reelection.

"We wouldn't be having these conversations if he was not running for president again," he said. "I respect him, but that's the problem. And by the way, Donald Trump? Not that far behind him."

"77% of the country wants to move on from this chapter," he continued. "We have two presidents — a former president, the current president— that, frankly, people have lost faith in broadly."

Special Counsel Robert Hur, who probed Biden's handling of classified documents after the now-president left the vice presidency, declined to file charges last week. But Hur's report referred to the commander in chief as a "well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory."

The report incensed Democrats, who largely defended Biden after the report was released. But some in the party are worried about the political ramifications as Biden, 81, tries to quell questions about his age and promote his myriad accomplishments.

Biden blasted the report on Thursday. He was especially angry that Hur wrote that the president couldn't remember when his oldest son, Beau, had died. "How in the hell dare he raise that," Biden said during the White House news conference. "I don't need anyone to remind me when he passed away."

Phillips, a third-term Minnesota congressman who lost in a landslide to Biden in the South Carolina Democratic primary earlier this month, said in the interview that Biden needed to think about the country's future instead of his own political calculus.

"I think he should be putting both his own legacy and the country, most importantly, ahead," Phillips said of the president. "And I think he's making the wrong decision for both by running again."

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