The Wash
Dean Phillips with people campaigning for him outside a New Hampshire precinct on election day.

24 hours with the Phillips campaign

Biden’s challenger talks about unity.

By Jasmine Thomas

MANCHESTER, N.H. — After launching an unlikely bid to challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination, Congressman Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) spent the final day before the first-in-the-nation primary rallying supporters and giving high fives.

The night before election day, Phillips supporters gathered at his campaign’s headquarters in downtown Manchester. Supporters were treated to free campaign merchandise, including Dean for President T-shirts and Missing Joe Biden posters. Former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang introduced Phillips to a crowd of supporters and journalists.

Former presidential candidate Yang rallies support for Dean Phillips (D)
Andrew Yang rallies Dean Phillips supporters. (Stephen Leverton/The Wash)

“I personally think it’s absurd that New Hampshire Democrats are being punished for holding a primary [that] you all are required to hold by state law,” Yang said, referring to Biden’s absence from both the ballot and in the state leading up to the election. “We need a guy who is actually making the case here in New Hampshire.”

Phillips talked less about policy and more about civic engagement, “Thank you for your belief in me,” he said. “Thank you for recognizing that if we don’t get our act together and start treating people with respect, and decency, and collegiality, we’re in big trouble.”

“If you want to be the leader of the United States of America, you cannot and should not ever condemn 50% of this country,” Phillips said, referring to his outreach to Trump supporters the night before. “That’s who I am. Are you ready for that kind of change?”

On election day, Phillips spent the morning greeting voters from polling place to polling place. He made a point to shake hands with sign-holders for every candidate.

Dean Phillips speaks to supporters in Manchester
Dean Phillips speaks to supporters in Manchester. (Stephen Leverton/The Wash)

When asked how he’d unify the Democratic party, Phillips said, “I’m really excited about the opportunity to not just unify Democrats, but actually bring independents and most Republicans along and re-establish what America really is — which is working together.”

Democratic primary voters had many options on their ballots, none of which were Biden. Many Democratic voters expressed displeasure at Biden’s absence from the state and the subsequent write-in campaign.

Donna LeRoy’s I-voted sticker. (Jasmine Thomas/The Wash)

“I think it’s pathetic,” Donna LeRoy, 56, said. She and her husband, wearing Dean for President shirts, took photos with Phillips outside their polling place on election day.

“How dare they say our vote doesn’t matter to them and then want us to write his name in?”

Retired teacher Jill Gendron, 64, was disappointed by Biden’s absence but still voted for him. “To tell you the truth, I’m voting for Biden just because he’s a Democrat.”

Her husband, retiree Michael Gendron, 65, wasn’t convinced by Phillips’ campaign. “I thought it was a very good campaign… I don’t know anything about him other than that he’s been on the TV the past three weeks.”

On Tuesday night, Phillips’ supporters gathered at the Millyard Museum in Manchester, where they were treated to food, an open bar and free campaign merchandise.

The room erupted in boos when it was announced that news organizations projected a win for Biden.

“So I’m here to say, are you ready to keep this baby going?” Phillips asked. “This is not a campaign about me, this is a campaign about all of you, and all the people around this great country who are looking for someone to get excited about.”

Phillips finished second with 19.6% of the Democratic vote.

The Wash Staff

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