Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, capturing over 96% of the vote.
But primary challenger Dean Phillips on Sunday said that warning signs remain for Biden.
“He should have passed the torch,” Phillips said of Biden’s 2024 reelection bid.
President Joe Biden on Saturday swept the South Carolina Democratic primary, winning over 96% of the vote and dominating intraparty rivals Marianne Williamson and Rep. Dean Phillips.
But despite Biden’s huge win, Phillips during a Sunday appearance on MSNBC’s “The Weekend” continued to insist that Biden is not the best choice for Democrats and said the president should have “passed the torch” to a new generation of leaders.
“Americans are really suffering right now. 60% living paycheck to paycheck, 40% don’t have $400 in the bank,” Phillips said. “And here we have the president in our party saying GDP growth is up, job growth is great. People are frustrated and they are fearful and they’re seeing wars around the world.”
“I respect Joe Biden. He should have passed the torch,” the Minnesota congressman continued. “This was not a mission for me. But someone had to do this.”
Phillips then said that despite Biden’s overwhelming victory in South Carolina, the president remained vulnerable against former President Donald Trump, pointing to the slew of competitive national polls — and swing state polls — that show the former president leading in key battlegrounds that could decide the race for the White House in November.
“Jimmy Carter was at 58% in January of 1980,” Phillips said as he referenced the former Democratic president’s standing before he eventually lost reelection later that year. “Joe Biden’s at 38%. I’m just trying to wake up our party.”
“We are the Progressive Party. We should be moving forward. I see the writing on the wall,” he added.
Phillips announced his long shot candidacy last October but has so far been unable to gain traction in the contest despite Biden’s polling struggles over the last year. The congressman has also taken heat from fellow Democrats like Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, who in December derided his presidential campaign as “a dream for Trump.”
On Saturday, Phillips won less than 2% of the vote in the South Carolina Democratic primary, coming in third place behind Williamson.
Many of Phillips’ House Democratic colleagues remain puzzled by his candidacy and have become openly critical of the primary challenge against Biden, who is likely to be locked in a highly competitive rematch against Trump this fall.
“I think it’s more of a joke at this point,” Florida Rep. Maxwell Frost recently told Business Insider’s Bryan Metzger of Phillips’ candidacy. “He doesn’t have the resources to be super competitive.”
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