Dean Phillips and Andrew Yang call out ‘missing’ Biden for skipping New Hampshire primary

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) fired up a standing-room-only crowd with promises to bring a new era to the Democratic Party just one day before the nation’s first presidential primary.

Phillips, 55, was joined by 2020 candidate Andrew Yang. Posters were available featuring a photo of President Joe Biden and the word “MISSING,” and Phillips jabbed at him onstage for skipping New Hampshire.

“I have seen the practice of democracy in the Granite State that isn’t just the best practice in this country but best all around the world,” Phillips said, standing before a group of college students. “And I want to thank you for showing this country how it works and why you are the first in the nation primary.”

Haisten Willis/Washington Examiner

“I respect the man, but Joe Biden is not able to beat Donald Trump in the next election,” Phillips added. “Every poll is showing his weakness and his [low] approval numbers, and we all know intuitively what is forthcoming.”

The twisted situation is the result of the Democratic National Committee, at Biden’s urging, moving South Carolina ahead of New Hampshire on the primary calendar as a reward for the Palmetto State rescuing his campaign in 2020.

New Hampshire, however, isn’t playing along, pointing to a state law that says it must hold the first primary. The spat means that Biden’s name will not appear on the New Hampshire primary ballot, the state won’t have any official delegates at the DNC convention, and the president’s supporters are staging a write-in campaign instead.

Phillips is trying to step into that void by campaigning heavily in the Granite State with a message that Biden should be here and, at 81, is too old for the presidency in any case.

“What do I ask you to do tomorrow? Demonstrate that not only are you not suppressed, that you are ready to vote for change,” Phillips said. “You know what’s really going to bother them is if we outperform tomorrow and surprise the whole world. Who’s going to do that? You’re going to do that. It will be the story of the century.”

Vowing not to run on a No Labels ticket because it could take votes from Biden, Phillips nonetheless said there’s a “cult of personality” around Biden at the DNC that risks sending former President Donald Trump back to the White House.

He said he spoke with Trump supporters in Rochester, New Hampshire, last night waiting in line for the Trump rally, complimenting them as a diverse, friendly, and hospitable group.

“My point is this: If you want to be the leader of the United States of America, you cannot and should not ever condemn 50% of this country,” he said.

Phillips spoke about affordable housing and “Medicare for all” onstage but also mentioned the need for a secure border, hitting at one of Biden’s weakest policy areas. He called for immigrants to remain in their country of origin while adjudication claims are processed, something Republicans have for years called for.

He finished up his session with a lengthy Q&A session with audience members.

Yang also spoke about the need for change during his appearance, pointing to Biden’s comments in 2020 that he would serve as a bridge to the next generation.

“There are people who are now questioning New Hampshire’s place in that role in our Democracy,” Yang, who benefited from support from younger voters four years ago, said. “I personally think it’s absurd that New Hampshire Democrats are being punished for holding a primary you will be required to hold by state law.”

Yang said Democracy is not necessarily alive and well at the DNC, as exemplified by the DNC stiffing New Hampshire and canceling primaries in Florida and North Carolina.

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., gestures while addressing a gathering during a campaign stop, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024, in Manchester, N.H. At left sharing the platform is former presidential candidate and businessman Andrew Yang. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Polling indicates that Phillips has an uphill battle to win New Hampshire, even with Biden absent from the state and the ballot. The RealClearPolitics polling average has Biden polling at 61%, with Phillips well behind at 16% and self-help guru Marianne Williamson at 5%.