Biden's challenger, who is on the ballot, is mocking him in an ad featuring a sasquatch. In it, the fabled beast pretends to look for the invisible president, who has avoided campaigning in New Hampshire. The ad ends with the tagline: "Why write [Biden] in, when he's written us off?"
Donald Trump made clear he's rooting for a Biden humiliation on Tuesday. At a campaign rally, the former president alluded to Phillips, albeit not by name.
"Nobody ever heard of this guy," Trump said. "He might beat Biden. Wouldn't that be nice?"
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'He should have passed the torch,' says challenger
The guy in question, Phillips, was born on a presidential inauguration day, Jan. 20, 1969, and he lost his father as an infant, months later, in the Vietnam War.
He grew up to become an alcohol- and ice cream-company owner and says he chose to run for Congress after Trump won the 2016 election.
His voting record is slightly more right-leaning than most Democrats in Congress. But he's hard to pigeonhole: His 2024 platform also includes progressive, Bernie Sanders-style policies like universal Medicare and free college tuition, and Sanders' former top aide is advising him.
The slogan Medicare For All was printed on posters surrounding the stage at an event Saturday where Phillips spoke to over 100 people in Nashua, N.H.
He's made no secret of his annoyance that he's had much more coverage from Fox News than from networks more popular with Democrats, like MSNBC; he's complaining of being blackballed.
At his rally, Phillips accused elected politicians of lying about their leaders.
He said Republicans privately describe Trump as a menace, then flatter him in public. He said Democrats do a version of this with Biden: Lamenting that he's lost a step, and is likely to lose this election, but not having courage to say so in public.
"We all know Joe Biden's a good man. I respect him, but he should have passed the torch," Phillips said.
"He should not be running again. … He's in decline. … We see the polls – they're horrifying. Battleground polls are horrible. He's going to lose. His approval numbers – historically low. You cannot recover from those and win another election."
Most Democrats tell pollsters they believe Biden can, in fact, win; according to a YouGov survey for The Economist, 73 per cent foresee a Biden victory in November, which runs against the view of Independents who predict a Trump victory.
New Hampshire voters weigh in
But many are nervous.
"I'm trying to be an optimist but I'm not feeling really optimistic right now, to tell you the truth," said Kerri Harrington, a Democrat in Littleton, N.H.
"If it comes down to Biden versus Trump, it's gonna be a really hard race to win."
At the Phillips rally in Nashua, local resident Anne Morris said she'd back Biden against Trump, referring to the last president as a "criminal" who has no business being in the White House.
But she's desperate for an alternative to Biden. She hopes her state sends the message Tuesday that there are options.
"I don't feel good about [Biden]," she said, calling the country worse-off under Biden's leadership.
"I don't approve of what he's doing, and I don't approve of his age. We need somebody younger. Someone with new ideas."
Not everyone will vote if it's Biden versus Trump.
Sebastian Blackwood, a college student, said he's disillusioned by the leading candidates. He leans libertarian, and said he's hoping for someone else to win a nomination, either Phillips on the Democratic side or Nikki Haley for the Republicans.
"I can't stand most of the people running," he said at the Phillips event.
"I'm not a big fan of choosing between the lesser of two evils. If you're going to make me choose between the evils, I'm just not going to choose."
Middle East cracking the Dem coalition
One of the biggest challenges for Democrats is a lack of enthusiasm among young voters and it's gotten worse since the Israel-Hamas war erupted Oct. 7.
That disenchantment over Gaza has prompted a parallel push in New Hampshire — some progressives want primary voters to write a word into the ballot, instead of a candidate name: "Ceasefire."
Young progressives, in particular, have more pro-Palestinian views than their elders and many blame Democrats for doing too little to prevent Palestinian civilian deaths.
It's not clear Phillips can do anything to change that.
The same issue cracking the Democratic coalition was apparent at Phillips's own rally. A heckler and another speaker challenged him on Mideast policy; they asked why he hasn't demanded a ceasefire or called the Israeli bombing campaign a war crime.
Phillips replied that he can hold several views at once: That Oct. 7 was "sickening," that the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians is also "sickening," that the Netanyahu government is part of the problem, and that Palestinians need a state.
That policy sounds a lot like Biden's.
Which raises a question repeated by a number of Democrats, and in some of the mocking coverage on MSNBC: Why is Phillips running?
What happened in past primary challenges against presidents
One thing lacking in this challenge to a sitting president is a clear ideological reason, said Christopher Galdieri, a political-science professor in New Hampshire.
It's not like Eugene McCarthy challenging Lyndon Johnson over Vietnam in 1968, he said, or Ronald Reagan opposing Gerald Ford in 1976 over conservative ideals, as Pat Buchanan also did with George H.W. Bush in 1992.
He doubts this challenge to Biden will gather as much momentum as those efforts or Ted Kennedy's push to oust Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Here's another thing those four past challenges to sitting presidents have in common: none of those sitting presidents was re-elected. Three lost, and Johnson withdrew from the race.
Primary challenges can be debilitating to an incumbent. So Galdieri will be watching the numbers Tuesday for any hint of that.
"[I'm looking to see]: What's the margin? Is Biden able to put this away?" Galdieri told CBC News. "The question is, can Biden win by enough that people stop talking about it, essentially."