Biden Flexes Political Muscle in Minnesota, Residence State of His Major Challenger

President Joe Biden speaks at Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield, Minn., Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (AP Picture/Andrew Harnik)

By Will Weissert and Chris Megerian

President Joe Biden visited a family-run farm in Minnesota on Wednesday and held a fundraiser that includes most of the state’s high Democrats, championing his administration’s investments in rural America whereas flexing political muscle on the house turf of his new 2024 main challenger, Rep. Dean Phillips.
The president introduced greater than $5 billion in spending, largely in rural areas. It would go towards higher adapting agriculture to local weather change, in addition to increasing high-speed web entry and enhancing native infrastructure. The funding comes from infrastructure and inflation discount legal guidelines which Biden helped champion by Congress.

“As a substitute of exporting jobs abroad for cheaper labor, now we’re creating jobs right here and increasing American merchandise and promoting them abroad,” Biden advised a cheering crowd inside a barn at Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield, about 40 miles south of Minneapolis. “We’re not solely reworking rural communities, we’re reworking our financial system.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack accompanied Biden on the journey and is amongst high members of the president’s Cupboard who will spend this week and subsequent touring to numerous states, selling administration investments. Vilsack referred to as Wednesday’s announcement “an thrilling alternative to have fun the significance of rural America” whereas Biden says his effort is “about investing in rural America” but additionally “restoring satisfaction in rural communities that had been left behind for much too lengthy.”

White Home spokesman Andrew Bates stated the Minnesota swing was deliberate earlier than Phillips introduced his candidacy final week “and has no relationship” to the president’s challenger. However the congressman is the one elected Democrat to marketing campaign in opposition to him for the White Home.

Phillips, 54, is a average from the largely well-to-do, comfortably Democratic Minneapolis suburbs. He has been saying since final 12 months that Biden should not be looking for reelection and may as a substitute step apart to make means for a brand new era. He factors to polls displaying voters, even many Democrats, involved in regards to the 80-year-old president’s age and electability in opposition to Donald Trump, the previous president and Republican front-runner.

Biden’s journey, coming so quickly after Phillips’ announcement, may permit the president to restrict any potential assist for his nascent main challenger. Company to the fundraiser, which adopted the farm go to, included many high Minnesota Democrats and Gov. Tim Walz.

Phillips’ marketing campaign will really feel “virtually like a chilly glass of water being thrown in his face,” stated Ken Martin, chair of Minnesota Democrats and a Democratic Nationwide Committee vice chair.

Martin is a pal of Phillips and recruited him to run for his Home seat. But when Phillips believes that persons are clamoring for alternate options to Biden, Martin stated, “he could also be alone in that considering amongst Democratic Get together leaders.”

“There actually doesn’t appear to be as a lot of a gap right here, as a lot as he would possibly need, or assume there’s, or must be,” he stated. Martin additionally addressed the fundraiser, calling it one of many largest occasions of its form for an incumbent president in Minnesota historical past.

Walz has been much more full-throated in his protection of Biden, releasing a fundraising electronic mail Friday on Biden’s behalf earlier than Phillips even formally received into the race titled “Minnesotans Love Joe Biden.”

“I’ve to say this about Minnesota: it’s a terrific state, stuffed with nice folks. And generally they do loopy issues,” Walz wrote, comparable to making “political sideshows for themselves.”

Because the journey unfolded, the White Home has confronted skepticism from some Muslim People for its staunch assist of Israel’s army assault on Hamas in Gaza. Protesters gathered close to the airport the place Biden landed and later, greater than 1,000 folks marched by downtown Minneapolis, throughout the river from Biden’s fundraiser. They carried Palestinian flags and indicators that stated “Cease Bombing Kids,” “Free Palestine” and “Ceasefire now.”

The demonstrations could not be seen from the president’s motorcade, however the usage of bullhorns was heard outdoors the location. Throughout his remarks on the fundraiser, Biden referred to as for a humanitarian “pause” within the Israel-Hamas conflict lengthy sufficient to get “prisoners” out.

Phillips, in the meantime, has confronted criticism from some outstanding Black Democrats for focusing his early marketing campaign on New Hampshire, which is overwhelmingly white, in defiance of the new, Biden-championed 2024 Democratic main calendar that has South Carolina going first. The transfer is supposed to raised empower Black and minority voters — however Biden additionally did much better as a 2020 Democratic main candidate in South Carolina, which he gained handily, than New Hampshire, the place he completed fifth.

“Any severe Democratic candidate would perceive that Black voters are the spine of the Democratic Get together,” stated Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson. He stated Phillips’ White Home run is “disrespectful to the voters of shade.”

New Hampshire’s main, which officers are planning to carry in January forward of South Carolina’s on Feb. 3, is unsanctioned by the Democratic Nationwide Committee. Biden will not seem on its poll however each New Hampshire state senator and different get together leaders are main a write-in marketing campaign on the president’s behalf.

Phillips missed Biden’s go to to his dwelling turf, noting in a press release that he was holding “my first city corridor in New Hampshire — which is celebrating its 103rd anniversary of internet hosting America’s first within the nation presidential main.”

He additionally questioned the go to being preplanned, calling it “final minute” whereas additionally saying he was grateful to Biden for utilizing the journey to “talk about the pressing points affecting on a regular basis People.”

Minnesota hasn’t backed a Republican for president since Richard Nixon in 1972. Trump narrowly misplaced the state to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and talked earlier than the 2020 election of flipping the state earlier than in the end failing to take action. Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher stated Biden might want to shore up Minnesota assist for 2024, likening it to a swing state the president has visited greater than some other, Pennsylvania.

“It’s not a diehard, dependable blue state,” Belcher stated. He famous Minnesota is a part of the midwestern blue wall that features Michigan and Wisconsin, and Biden “doesn’t stand an opportunity if that blue wall doesn’t stand.”

“We’ve seen that blue wall, in previous elections, be shaky,” Belcher stated.

Pennsylvania Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, who labored with Phillips as a member of the centrist Home Drawback Solvers Caucus and different legislative endeavors, stated she has “an infinite quantity of respect for Dean” however “I really feel as if his probably platform can be similar to the platform that he has voted for largely, which is President Biden’s agenda and legislative accomplishments.”

“I don’t see an actual differentiation,” Houlahan stated. She additionally referred to as Phillips a ”distraction” at a time when Democrats must be backing Biden “in a unified method to permit him, and us, to finish work that we’ve all began collectively.”

Related Press author Mark Vancleave in Minneapolis contributed to this report.