Dean Phillips Officially Ends His Quixotic Campaign

Faith Ninivaggi/Reuters
Faith Ninivaggi/Reuters

After spending millions of his own dollars, a rocky campaign launch, a disappointing all-or-nothing gambit in New Hampshire, and a string of blowout defeats in every state primary after, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) finally dropped out of the 2024 presidential race and endorsed President Joe Biden.

Phillips announced his decision on Minnesota radio station WCCO on Wednesday afternoon, hours after another election night in which he failed to generate much more than marginal support for his longshot campaign.

While he reiterated the core conceit of his bid—that Biden was too old to effectively run against Donald Trump—Phillips praised the president's "integrity" and decency" and urged his supporters, as well as those of Nikki Haley and those who protested Biden's Israel stance with an "uncommitted" vote, to back Biden.

In his quest to wake up the rest of the Democratic Party to Biden's weakness in a rematch against Trump, Phillips often invoked the late Eugene McCarthy, a Minnesota native who beat expectations against former President Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primary.

Johnson famously withdrew his re-election plans after McCarthy’s shock performance.

“Gene McCarthy recognized that President Johnson was terribly unpopular,” Phillips told a crowd of Dartmouth students in November. “There was a war that was disgusting him. He recognized that massive numbers of Americans were unheard and particularly young people.”

Dean Phillips Pleads With Audience to Pay Attention to Him at Democratic Fundraiser

Unfortunately for Phillips, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Despite polls showing as many as two-thirds of Democratic-leaning voters indicating they don’t want Biden to be the nominee, Phillips never caught fire. He finished 43 points behind Biden in the unsanctioned New Hampshire primary, even with Biden’s name not on the ballot.

In primary contests after New Hampshire in which Phillips invested a fraction of the time and money, the results were even more stark. In Michigan, he did not even win 3 percent of the vote, placing behind fellow longshot candidate Marianne Williamson, who had already suspended her campaign.

Last year, Phillips said he would bow out of the race if he was not viable after Super Tuesday. The message was sent loud and clear: even in Phillips' home state of Minnesota, he failed to exceed 8 percent of the vote. Nearly three times as many Minnesota Democrats voted for "uncommitted."

Phillips struggled to find both an ideological lane to distinguish himself from Biden as well as airtime to introduce himself to voters.

On one occasion in Manchester, New Hampshire, a CBS News reporter captured a photo of a despondent-looking Phillips with a distant stare, sitting in the back of his campaign truck next to an untouched box of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee after no voters showed up to a campaign event.

Sometimes, Phillips couldn’t help but air his frustration.

He scolded reporters in a Jan. 23 gaggle for “not asking the questions that Americans give a shit about.” Later in the race, when campaigning in South Carolina, he admonished the crowd for talking over him during his speech.

“We are all Democrats. We have a lot of speakers tonight. I know what it’s like when no one is paying attention. I would just ask for about two of your minutes,” Phillips said at a fundraiser as a C-SPAN camera showed people meandering around the room and having side conversations.

In a bit of foreshadowing, Biden later took the stage to chants of, “Four more years!”

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