What's going on with Dean Phillips? He floats Nikki Haley team-up, attacks Walz and Klobuchar

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U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, who continues to pursue his slim-chance Democratic presidential bid, is floating the idea of teaming up with Republican Nikki Haley on a bipartisan unity ticket if they both lose their parties' respective nominations.

At the same time, Phillips is lashing out at some of his fellow Minnesota Democrats for putting "self-preservation over principle." And he found himself on the defensive after an NBC News story linked a fake Biden robocall that went out to New Hampshire voters to a Phillips campaign consultant.

Phillips and his campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

The third-term Minnesota congressman continued to flip-flop this week on whether he would consider running as a third-party candidate if he loses the Democratic nomination to President Joe Biden.

In January, Phillips openly speculated about running on a bipartisan unity ticket under the banner of the centrist group No Labels, if Americans are faced with a Biden-Trump general election rematch. He walked back the comments a few days later amid criticism and said he wasn't considering running as a third-party or independent candidate.

But in an interview with WCCO Radio on Thursday, Phillips revived the idea.

"Wouldn't all your listeners be more compelled by maybe Nikki Haley and Dean Phillips getting together on a unity ticket?" Phillips told WCCO's Chad Hartman. "There's no way Nikki Haley will become the nominee in the GOP, and the fact of the matter is, right now the Democratic Party doesn't want a competition and seems to want to coronate Joe Biden."

Hartman interjected: "So let's say she would run as an independent, you would run as her VP?"

"I think it's a conversation that Ambassador Haley and I should have if that's what this comes down to," Phillips responded.

Phillips criticizes Walz, Klobuchar and Smith

Phillips took aim at Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith during his interview with Hartman.

"I'm going to say it about every one of them: Gov. Walz, Sen. Smith, Sen. Klobuchar, I'm astounded by the unwillingness to speak the truth. I'm astounded by the lack of courage. I'm astounded by this notion of self-preservation over principle," Phillips said, referring to their support for Biden amid the president's low polling and approval numbers.

Phillips has been criticized by many fellow Democrats for mounting an intraparty challenge against Biden. Smith roasted him in a recent video, saying "Poor Dean ... he took a real beating in New Hampshire," a reference to Phillips' resounding primary loss against Biden in the Granite State.

Walz sent out a fundraising email for Biden's re-election campaign the same day that Phillips launched his presidential campaign. Sometimes, he said, "[Minnesotans] make political sideshows for themselves."

Klobuchar hasn't gone out of her way to publicly criticize Phillips. But Phillips singled her out even further in the radio interview, listing her among the politicians in Washington who he feels have been in office for too long.

"I think the fact that Sen. Klobuchar is running for another re-election is absurd. I think that Joe Biden's been in Washington for 50 years — absurd. I think the fact that Nancy Pelosi is running again — absurd," Phillips said.

Hartman interjected: "You do not believe Amy Klobuchar should be running for re-election?"

"I think it's important in the United States of America, Chad, for people to serve, do their best for maybe … 10 years, 12 years in the Senate, maybe 18 years. In fact, my proposition is 18-year term limits in the House and Senate combined," Phillips said.

Klobuchar is 63. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006.

Klobuchar's campaign spokesman Ben Hill responded to Phillips' criticisms in an email Thursday.

"Minnesotans want leaders who get results and that's what Senator Klobuchar does. In the last Congress, she distinguished herself as the Senator with the most bipartisan bills, and she ranked third for passing bills into law," Hill said.