Biden challenger Dean Phillips gets his shot at primetime interview and it goes pretty poorly

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips is running in the Democratic Party’s primary to try and unseat incumbent President Joe Biden. The launch of his campaign has been met with dismal polling numbers, coming in at 6% support, which trails Marianne Williamson at 8%, who in turn trails Biden by more than 50 percentage points.

On Tuesday, Phillips’ campaign made a push, releasing attack ads against Biden and sitting down with CNN’s Abby Phillip for a primetime interview. It didn’t go particularly well. The CNN host asked Phillips about the backlash he’s received from a recently published interview with The Atlantic, where he obliquely questioned Vice President Kamala Harris’ competency to be president.

Phillips’ response was to try on what seemed to be an attempt at a shoot-from-the-hip catchphrase, saying, “I'm the one who says—I'm the one who says the quiet part out loud. I think that's pretty well documented,” but the CNN host pressed him as to why he would repeat these “comments.”

The man who just told everyone that it is “pretty well documented” that he is “the one who says the quiet part out loud” explained, “I do not recall saying those words. I recall those words being shared with me, and saying that’s what people have been saying.”

He proceeded to say both Biden and Harris were good people and that it wasn’t him saying these things. He switched tacks to argue that, in fact, the low approval ratings being touted by media outlets prove that both Biden and Harris have people saying these things about them. Of course, if that’s the metric, Phillips is even less exciting to Americans.

While that didn’t go well, maybe Phillips could get back on board and show solid leadership and diplomacy around Biden’s behind-the-scenes success in helping to broker a hostage deal and temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

ABBY PHILLIP: The reporting is that Hamas would release kidnapped Israeli hostages in exchange for a 3-to-1 ratio of Palestinian prisoners: women and minors—children who are in Israeli prison. If you were president of the United States, would you accept that deal?

REP: DEAN PHILLIPS: No, because we have nine Americans held hostage right now by Hamas, have been there for six weeks, including at least one child. And by now, I would have expected American special forces to perhaps play a hand in extracting them. I think it's absurd, shocking, and dismaying that six weeks later we still have American hostages held by a terror organization in Gaza. I'm happy for the Israelis, don't get me wrong. Hamas should release all hostages. But the fact that we have Americans sitting in Gaza right now held hostage is appalling and should be addressed immediately.

PHILLIP: ​​So to be clear, you would turn down even this opportunity to free 50 hostages, and I want to just clarify for the audience, these are Israelis, but some of them are dual citizens—they hold dual passports, including some Americans.

PHILLIPS: If all Americans are included that are held hostage right now, of course I would approve it. If there's a single American that is still held hostage after this deal. No, I think it's that important, Abby. I think the American president has an obligation to extract Americans. It's been six weeks, and I'm happy that some are being released, but every single American citizen should be part of that group. And if I were the American president, I would not agree to anything until every single one of them is released. I would demand it. And if it wasn't done, we have to use every lever available to us to ensure it.

Phillip decided to try and tease out how unsophisticated the candidate’s statement is as an actual policy position.

PHILLIP: Well, you have said that the war has taken an unacceptable toll on Palestinian citizens and civilians—

PHILLIPS: —And Israelis.

PHILLIP: And, of course, on Israelis. But in terms of the toll on Palestinians in Gaza, you're saying a cease-fire only in exchange for the hostages. It seems pretty clear at this point those are not terms that Hamas will accept. So how will you get them to agree to release all of the hostages, which they've refused to do up until this point, simply by putting a cease-fire on the table?

PHILLIPS: First of all, Hamas should have been eliminated years ago. The fact that a terror organization will not release 200 humans in exchange for the preservation of life of the people they ostensibly represent is appalling. By the way, this is a failure, Abby, of the past—

PHILLIP:—But what will you do about it, is my question? What would you do if you were president? What would you do to change that?

PHILLIPS: Just like I proposed, release the 200 hostages. There will be an immediate—

PHILLIP:—Hamas has to—Hamas has to do that. So how do you get Hamas to do it?

PHILLIPS: Hamas—Hamas has to do it because—ow do you get Hamas to do it?


PHILLIPS: You make the—this is exactly the presentation: Release 200 hostages, an immediate cease-fire, and a multinational security force to maintain security for all Palestinians in Gaza. That eliminates Israel's responsibility.

PHILLIP: Do you think that the Biden administration is deferring too much to the Israeli government in how this war is conducted? Because it kind of sounds like what you're saying is that you think that the United States government should simply just go in there and release the Americans.

Regardless of your position on the conflict in Israel and Gaza, arguing that the Biden administration forgot to ask for all hostages to be released and a cease-fire is not a position. And most importantly, it isn’t a meaningful position in opposition to Biden. Phillips' candidacy remains an enigma.

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