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Tuesday's New Hampshire primary could have echoed 1968, when a Minnesota congressional upstart nearly upset an unpopular president. Lightning didn't strike twice, however, even though Third District Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips finished second to the incumbent, just as then-Sen. Eugene McCarthy was runner-up to Lyndon Johnson.

McCarthy's margin, however, was much closer, with seven percentage points separating the senator and the president (49%-42%). Phillips, conversely, didn't jolt President Joe Biden at the same rate. Backed by a write-in campaign, Biden "won" 63.9%-19.6% in a primary whose results aren't recognized by the Democratic National Committee after it broke tradition (and New Hampshire hearts) by selecting South Carolina as the party's first test.

Unlike Johnson, who soon stunned the country by dropping out — a mere four years after his landslide 1964 victory — Biden is remaining in the race. Whether he'll remain in the White House will be determined by a likely rematch with his presidential predecessor, Donald Trump.

But Phillips is likely to keep running, too, and in fact said in an interview the morning after the primary that "we're on our way to South Carolina," even though he acknowledged it was basically "home turf" for Biden. There, and in Michigan, he'll continue a campaign that may seem quixotic at best and quicksand at worst, with money and media-attention challenges intensifying.

The issue animating McCarthy's insurgent campaign was Vietnam, which split the party — and the country. Today, the international issue dividing Democrats is U.S. support for Israel's war with Hamas. Unlike McCarthy, however, Phillips isn't defined by opposition to Biden's position. And indeed, he even credited "the president's handling of our national defense and foreign policy during his tenure as president so far."

And yet, he said, "I would be remiss if I didn't call attention to the fact that so much of what I find distasteful and disappointing in our federal government is the unwillingness or inability to identify issues upstream, anticipate the consequences, and have a plan in place to change horses.

"And for a man who has been in Washington for 50 years — was the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, eight years as vice president, three years as president of the United States — the issues in the Middle East and the issues in Eastern Europe are ones in which this president has had a role. And sadly, I believe the strategies of the past into which he still seems to buy in have caused much of this destruction; the inability of so many to create peace in the Middle East through American diplomacy, through our foreign policy and foreign aid strategies, through our work with allies around the world — I think is not just shameful, it's horrifying. And the loss of life among Israelis on Oct. 7, then so many thousands of innocent Palestinian lives, is a byproduct of that failure."

The "objective of good foreign policy," Phillips continued, "is the prevention of the very wars in which we now find ourselves mired once again. And, of course as someone who lost his own father in Vietnam — which was another misguided, poorly managed and despicable conflict — it is both personal and very real for me and so many others who have lost loved ones in war."

Similar extended comments — not sound bites or memorable, meme-able phrases — characterized Phillips' responses on other policy issues. Including the southern border. Describing himself a "rare Democrat telling America the truth," Phillips called the situation "an unmitigated, inhumane and national-security disaster that has gone unmet, unattended to, and it's almost irresponsible in the lack of attention to a real American tragedy." He had commensurate critiques, with detailed plans, on economic and other matters as well.

But it's not policy, but politics that have marked Phillips' run, and here he's been blunter, arguing that Biden won't win and Trump must be stopped.

"The defensive mission is abundantly clear to most Americans," Phillips said. "Donald Trump is a threat to democracy, a clear and present danger, who is marching his way back to the White House, and my mission remains steadfast in my belief that somebody has to stand up to try to stop him.

"And since the data indicates it is not Joe Biden — in the absence of others whom I contacted directly by the way, both privately and publicly, their unwillingness to join the stage and meet the moment — I came to the point where, if not me, who? If not now, when?"

Biden, Phillips emphasized, is "a man I respect." The congressman also showed respect for Trump voters (if not the candidate himself), including by interacting with some who were waiting outside in the New Hampshire cold for a Trump rally.

"It was a number of extraordinarily reasonable people," Phillips said, many of whom "had voted for Obama and others and had simply lost faith in the Democratic Party and saw in Donald Trump someone who was listening and paying attention."

Before commenting on his New Hampshire performance, Phillips reflected on how New Hampshire itself performed. "Let me start with the result you can't quantify, which is the practice of democracy," Phillips said. "It's entirely subjective, but I gotta tell you, I've never seen it done with such passion, vigor, engagement and decency and respect" from both parties, he added. "If anything, it reinvigorated me and re-inspired me to continue this mission because they could not have been more hospitable, thoughtful, and respectful. And a country that is watching 'angertainment' would have us believe we are more divided than I believe we are."

That reinvigoration and re-inspiration will get a reality check, however, by low poll numbers and cash reserves. And, in an especially vexing dynamic to Phillips, resistance from the Democratic Party to have him on some ballots, particularly, he said, in Florida and North Carolina.

"At the end of the day, the insurrection on January 6th was violent and despicable," Phillips said. "The objective was to prevent the counting of ballots that day. And here we have the Democratic National Committee preventing the printing of ballots and preventing Democratic voters from even voting on those ballots."

Phillips didn't stop with the DNC. MSNBC, other cable news networks and the media writ large are a big problem too, he said. "The only surprise so far is not the attacks from my party, or the steep slope of a candidate with little name recognition, but it is the media." That, Phillips continued, "has to me been one of the most shockingly irresponsible misuses of American power I've ever known."

Compared to Fox News, which interviewed most GOP candidates, MSNBC, he said, did not extend one invitation "despite being the ranking member of the Mideast subcommittee."

Phillips is right about the national media. (Locally, he's received considerable coverage.) And he's not wrong to challenge an incumbent from his own party. Elections are competitions, after all, and voters deserve choices — especially when so many have angst, even anger, over a Biden-Trump rematch.

And he's right to return to his roots if he isn't the nominee.

Indeed, despite the disappointments, Phillips clarified that if he is not nominated he would not run as a third-party candidate and would endorse Biden if he is the nominee.

"I'll be declarative," Phillips said. "I have invested in our party, supported our candidates long before I ran, been a member of it, enabled it, and been proud of it.

"I am," Phillips concluded, "a Humphrey Democrat" — referring to 1968′s other Minnesota titan who eventually won the nomination but lost the election to that era's divisive figure: Richard Nixon.