Former White House staffer Bill Burton revealed he was recently courted by a Democrat who is challenging President Joe Biden's reelection bid, the Washington Examiner reported. Burton, who served as President Barack Obama's deputy press secretary, said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) offered him a job on his campaign.
Rumors had been swirling that Phillips was quietly putting together campaign staff ahead of a challenge to Biden, including tapping those who worked during Obama's administration. This is a slap in the face to the incumbent, as Biden served as his vice president.
Burton addressed the rumors directly and took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to share the news Thursday. "To be clear, this is not something I took seriously even for a second," Burton posted.
"Someone asked for a conversation, and I wasn't willing to have one," he added. Burton shared the information along with a retweet of Dan Merica's post about how Phillips was going about his reported recruitment.
"Democrat Dean Phillips Looking to Hire Presidential Campaign Staff, Targeting New Hampshire. Among those who have been solicited by Phillips' team are former Obama hand Bill Burton and former McCain aide Steve Schmidt," Merica, a national political reporter with The Messenger, had posted earlier.
Phillips has been calling for someone to challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination for the 2024 presidential election. The Minnesota Democrat has been urging heavy hitters in his party to knock Biden out in the primary while also leaving on the table his own potential candidacy.
Armed with polling data showing Biden is unpopular even within his own party, Phillips has made the case the president's time has come and gone. "I would like to see Joe Biden, a wonderful and remarkable man, pass the torch — cement this extraordinary legacy," Phillips claimed in August.
So far, no major Democrat has stepped up to the plate. However, it appears Phillip is looking on his own for competent and seasoned individuals to build a campaign around, and Burton is precisely the kind of person he would need.
Burton was part of Obama's successful 2008 campaign and later served in the administration. Phillips has also reportedly tapped Steve Schmidt, co-founder of the Lincon Project, a political action committee vehemently opposed to former President Donald Trump.
Schmidt served as a senior advisor to Sen. John McCain during his failed 2008 presidential bid. As a Republican operative, Schmidt would presumably provide insider knowledge and is already versed in attacking Trump, the likely GOP nominee.
There's no doubt that Biden is in trouble, and even the people in his own party know it. A CNN/SSRS released last month showed that nearly three-quarters of the voting population believe that Biden is not fit for office anymore, given his age and clear signs of decline, The Hill reported.
Still, regardless of how unpopular Biden is and how many people are worried about his ability to serve, it's extremely difficult to replace an incumbent during a primary. Moreover, most of the alternatives to Biden are just as problematic.
The natural choice for his successor, Vice President Kamala Harris, is even more unpopular than Biden. Other popular Democrats, like California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have too much of their own baggage and are too risky.
Democrats know that Americans have wised up to the trainwreck that is the Biden presidency. However, it seems they're likely stuck with him for 2024 unless something drastic happens -- but Phillips may make a play for the presidency anyway.