WASHINGTON – Despite his low approval record and the public’s concerns about his age, Minnesota Democrats – with the notable exception of Rep. Dean Phillips – are backing President Joe Biden’s bid for reelection.
Phillips, D-3rd District, the first lawmaker to call for a new generation of Democratic leadership in the White House, said Biden should be challenged.
“I’m impressed by the Biden presidency and find the president to be a man of equal parts competency and compassion. I also believe American democracy is made stronger by competition,” Phillips said. “Coronations are antithetical to democracy, and competition always results in the best possible candidate – particularly at such a perilous time in our nation’s history.”
Despite Phillips’ call for “competition,” no major Democratic challengers are expected to emerge, and only two candidates have stepped up to run against Biden, author Marianne Williamson and anti-vaccine and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy.
Biden kicked off his reelection bid Tuesday with a video that framed the race as a fight against Republican extremism and the possibility of another Donald Trump presidency. He also said he needed a second term to fully realize his vow to restore the nation’s character and integrity.
“When I ran for president four years ago, I said we were in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are,” Biden said in the video.
Biden also has a slogan for the 2024 election, “Let’s finish the job.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who was Biden’s primary rival in 2020 before she dropped out of the race for the White House, retweeted Biden’s pitch for another four years.
“Let’s continue to work together to get things done for the American people,” Klobuchar said.
Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn. Also retweeted Biden’s re-election announcement video – and repeated the president’s slogan.
“We’re building an America where everyone gets a fair shot,” Smith said. “We’re fighting for the future we want for our kids, our grandkids, and every generation that follows. Let’s finish the job.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-5th District, praised Biden’s legislative accomplishments, which include a massive infrastructure bill and a package of health care and clean energy initiatives – and his recent visit to Minnesota to promote green energy.
“President Joe Biden’s visit to Fridley in my district this month underscored all that we have accomplished as Democrats in the past two years — the biggest investments in clean energy in history, hundreds of thousands of new jobs in Minnesota and millions of dollars invested in community projects directly in the Fifth District,” Omar said. “It is for these reasons and more that I plan to support our Democratic President for reelection.”
Omar also repeated Biden’s message that the nation’s democracy is under threat by “Donald Trump and his fellow MAGA Republicans” and that Democrats need to be present a “united front to combat it.”
Omar also said she would continue to press the more-centrist Biden on “progressive change on issues like student debt, child hunger, immigration, and foreign policy.”
If Biden wins re-election, he’ll be 82 when he takes office and 86 when his term ends, once again becoming the oldest person to be sworn into the White House. Trump will be 78 in 2024.
And the president’s overall approval rating remains mired at just over 42%, according to political website FiveThirtyEight.
Rep. Angie Craig, D-2nd District, said she respected Biden’s decision to seek reelection, “and of course I will support him.” But Craig also said she hopes for a new generation of Democratic leaders to win the White House, just as younger Democrats have taken over her party’s top jobs in the U.S. House.
“Just as we have recently seen with the transition of leadership in Congress to Hakeem Jeffries, I believe that the party has enormous, new leadership that will be critical in moving America forward,” Craig said in an emailed statement. “So, while I’m looking forward to the next generation of leadership stepping forward, I respect the president’s decision to run and look forward to our continued work together.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz was more enthusiastic about Biden’s announcement.
“As anti-democratic extremists around the country work to take away our rights, President @joebiden has defended our democracy and freedoms with decency, integrity and compassion,” the governor tweeted. “He’s had our back – and now we have his. “We’re ready to get to work for four more years!”
Walz’s support will be key to efforts by the Biden campaign to build a “blue wall” with the key Midwestern states to stave off another Trump victory, provided the former president is indeed the Republican challenger.
The governor was one of the signers of a letter to Biden and the Democratic National Committee last month urging they choose Chicago as the site of the 2024 national convention to solidify and expand Democratic support of the president’s re-election in the Midwest. The letter said Democrats took their eyes off the ball in 2016, losing Wisconsin and Michigan – which usually voted for a Democratic presidential candiate prior to Trump in 2016.
“The election of 2016 is a cautionary tale that the Democratic National Committee, now choosing where to hold its nominating convention in 2024, must take to heart,” the letter said. “In an incredibly polarized nation, whose electoral college model has a griphold (sic) on election outcomes, the Midwest is utterly indispensable to the party’s success and should be the home of its 2024 convention.”
The DNC chose Chicago over Atlanta for the convention.