Biden makes quick stop in Northfield to kick off his ‘Investing in Rural America’ tour

The president traveled to Minnesota just five days after Dean Phillips launched a primary campaign against him.

The president traveled to Minnesota just five days after Dean Phillips launched a primary campaign against him. (Official White House photo)

“Folks, Bidenomics is just another way of saying ‘the American Dream.’”

That was the tone President Joe Biden aimed to set, and a phrase he repeated a handful of times, inside the barn at the Kluver family farm in Northfield, Minn., on Wednesday to kick off his administration’s “Investing In Rural America” tour.

That the president chose a farm backdrop just 30 minutes from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to begin his “barnstorming” campaign in rural communities across America, may or may not be tied to the fact that he is now facing a primary challenge from a Twin Cities metro-based Democrat, Congressman Dean Phillips.

A number of DFL elected officials in recent days, including Gov. Tim Walz (who was in attendance at the Biden event), have expressed support for the incumbent president. Walz on WCCO Radio this week promised Phillips’ longshot campaign is “not going to be relevant.”

Biden also made time during his Wednesday day trip to Minnesota to attend a fundraiser in Minneapolis, amid a smattering of protests from activists affiliated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations and “The Anti-War Committee.” Those protesters set up at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, in Northfield and in downtown Minneapolis to “demand an end to U.S. support for Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Gaza,” according to progressive social media account Unicorn Riot. Biden’s fundraiser in Minneapolis was disrupted by a rabbi calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East, videos published on social media indicate.

But in Northfield on Wednesday, there was no doubt in the president’s voice or words during his 20-minute mid-afternoon speech — which mostly focused on a plethora of investments he said the Inflation Reduction Act would make to rural communities — that he wants to win and serve a second term.

“Bidenomics is about investing in all, all of America, all America, including rural America,” Biden said to a crowd of reporters, dignitaries and supporters inside a barn at the Dutch Creek Farm owned by Rusty Kluver and his sons Brad and Robby. “It’s about making things in rural America again. That’s exactly what this historic legislation we’ve passed has done, creating new and better markets and new income streams so that generations of rural Americans can begin to thrive again.”

“Clean energy initiatives contained in the Inflation Reduction Act — we are investing in nearly $20 billion to help farmers and ranchers tackle the climate crisis,” he continued.

Biden, 80, the oldest sitting president in American history, then made a few vague references to Ronald Reagan’s administration, who was credited for an era of “Reaganomics” that has its share of admirers and detractors, Biden being in the latter camp.

“Over the past 40 years or so we have had an economic practice called trickle-down economics, and it hit rural America especially hard,” the president continued. “It hollowed out Main Street, telling farmers the only path to success was to get big or get out. Tax cuts for corporations encouraged companies to grow bigger and bigger, move jobs and labor overseas and undercut local labor and businesses.”

By contrast, the president said, “Bidenomics” is “rooted in what always worked best for the country.”

“I can honestly say I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future than I am today.”

Phillips takes steady shots at Biden’s age, approval ratings, leading up to president’s visit

That wasn’t the tone shared by Biden’s new Democrat primary challenger. While Phillips was scheduled to appear at his own campaign’s town hall in New Hampshire on Wednesday evening, the three-term congressman from Wayzata fired off a steady series of tweets throughout the day criticizing the Washington establishment for hyper-partisanship and an aging president he openly worries will lose to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in the general election one year from now.

“In one graph, this is why I am running for President,” Phillips said in a lunch hour post on Twitter, referencing a polling graphic from Bloomberg News that shows Trump leading Biden head-to-head among likely voters in five of seven swing states. “We could be sleepwalking towards disaster. We need an open primary, and I hope other qualified Democrats still jump in.”

Earlier in the morning, Phillips drew a contrast between himself and the partisanship he says plagues Congress, saying on Twitter that he would have considered supporting Tom Emmer for speaker of the House, and that he is a moderate who will reach across party lines.

Phillips also spent about 10 minutes early on Wednesday speaking with WCCO Radio show morning host Vineeta Sawkar, where he made his best case for why Minnesota’s Democratic primary voters should support him over the incumbent president. The day prior Gov. Walz dismissed Phillips’ presidential campaign, saying “it’s not going to be relevant, and we’ll just move on.”

“I’m a friend of the governor, and I think he would call me one of his, and I couldn’t see it differently,” Phillips said. “I believe what is really crazy, is to look at what is going on in our country, the great crises that we are facing, and recognize that it is much more likely than not that Donald Trump will be the next president, if it is a Biden-Trump head-to-head matchup again, a repeat of 2020.”

“And let me say, I was one of those who in 2016 thought it was impossible; impossible for a man like Donald Trump to win the United States presidency.”

Phillips then spent a few minutes fending off criticism from his fellow Democrats on the national and Minnesota stage who have criticized his entry into the race against Biden.

“What is at risk right now is an institutional notion, perhaps, in politics, in Washington D.C., that they know it all,” Phillips said during his WCCO Radio interview. “That they should make the choices and then just offer them to Americans, who are increasingly repulsed, increasingly disappointed. The numbers demonstrate that, and most importantly the conversations with people I have demonstrated that. In fact, it’s worse than I even imagined.”

“I think people are now seeing the political machines at their very, very worst,” Phillips said, adding that “the president has mobilized his machine, to demean, to diminish, to divide, to spread mistruths, and therein lies exactly why only 17 percent of Americans believe their government is looking out for them.”


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.