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Long-shot Biden challenger Dean Phillips scolds Dem leaders calling his campaign disrespectful to Black voters

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips – who’s primary challenging President Biden – is pushing back against criticism from a top Biden ally that he’s being disrespectful to Black voters.

And the moderate three-term congressman from Minnesota who launched his 2024 White House run last week charged – as he answered a question from Fox News Digital – that those who are attacking him are fueling a “political conversation that’s dividing the country right now.”

But Phillips’ comments on Tuesday triggered a new round of incoming fire from allies of the president.

Hours after Phillips formally declared his candidacy on Friday in New Hampshire after filing to place his name on the ballot in the state that’s held the first-in-the-nation presidential primary for a century, longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina took aim at Phillips for campaigning in the Granite State.

“South Carolinians have demonstrated for decades that we are good predictors of great presidential candidates. Apparently, Dean Phillips disagrees,” Clyburn – a co-chair of Biden’s re-election campaign – charged. “He’s not respecting the wishes of the titular head of our Party and the loyalties of some of our Party’s most reliable constituents.”

Fox News reached out to Clyburn’s office for reaction, but didn’t receive a response at the time this story posted.

But Phillips’ criticism of Clyburn, who’s a revered leader in Democratic circles, triggered plenty of pushback.

Among the comments – veteran Democratic strategist and DNC committee member Maria Cardona criticized Phillips over his decision to skip the primary in Nevada, another crucial early voting state in the Democrats’ 2024 presidential nominating calendar.

“Ha!! Give me a break. @RepDeanPhillips has so much affection for brown voters that he gave us the middle finger by not bothering to file & compete in NV w LOTS of Latino voters!” Cardona said as she responded to Phillips comments to Fox News.

And Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, also took to social media to blast Phillips, writing “No, Dean, you don’t get it. The base of the party comes through States like #SouthCarolina and #Nevada so why would you choose to not listen to and engage with these voters.”

Phillips has also faced withering criticism from plenty of Democrats that his primary challenge will weaken Biden’s chances of winning re-election next year. 

But the congressman pushed back against those claims and pointed to a new poll from Gallup, that indicated Biden’s approval rating with Americans continuing to edge deeper underwater.

“The idea that I am weakening Joe Biden is not factual,” he said as he took questions from the audience at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. “It’s not me who has Biden at 37%, and losing in swing states.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire. 

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