ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden’s campaign is dismissing threats that a third-party candidacy, like a potential No Labels “unity” ticket, could siphon crucial votes from him in a close election in November, arguing that voters won’t be “fooled” by those options.

“At the end of the day, there’s only going to be two parties that have an ability to get to 270 electoral votes and that’s going to be Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee and whoever emerges from the extreme Republican primary that’s going on right now,” Quentin Fulks, the Biden campaign’s principal deputy manager, told ABC News “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday.

“So, you know, look, we’re gonna stay focused on the issues and make this about freedom and democracy,” Fulks continued. “The Americans that have the most at stake understand that and they’re not going to be fooled by anything else.”

The Biden campaign’s projected confidence comes as Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who is mounting a long-shot primary challenge against the president, recently said for the first time that he would consider accepting No Labels’ nomination if the election becomes a rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump and it looked like Biden was “almost certain to lose.”

That’s a reversal for Phillips, who had said that if he loses in the Democratic primary, he would support Biden.

No Labels is a group that is fielding a possible bipartisan “unity” third-party ticket.

While Fulks said Sunday that third-party groups do not pose a major risk of spoiling Biden’s campaign, Biden himself said last fall that the group would “help the other guy,” in reference to Trump.

No Labels officials have insisted they don’t want to run a ticket merely to hurt Biden over Trump.

Fulks said Sunday that the campaign is approaching the race as two-way matchup between Biden and the eventual Republican nominee and will work to create a split-screen of their policy differences.

“Our campaign is going to continue to make sure that we’re delivering a message to draw that contrast about what this election is all about and that’s restoring democracy and protecting freedoms for millions of Americans across this country,” Fulks told Raddatz.

But, while the 2024 campaign is only still ramping up, Biden is running with weak approval numbers and what polling shows is widespread voter sentiment that he’s too old and without enough mental sharpness or physical health to serve in office.

Something else that could spell trouble for Biden in November is a potential underperformance with Black voters, who are core to the Democratic Party’s base and whose support appears to be softening in the polls.

Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, a close Biden ally, recently said he was “very concerned” about Black voters showing up for the president.

The campaign has tried to push back, with Vice President Kamala Harris telling ABC News in an exclusive interview last week that they are responding to the community’s needs.

Fulks argued on “This Week” that Biden’s administration has done more for African Americans than any other, citing an increase in Black wealth and a shrinking of the racial wealth gap.

He told Raddatz that the campaign is working to “send a clear signal that, one, we don’t take them for granted; two, we recognize that we need to earn their support in this campaign and communicate with them … all the work that this administration has done to make their lives better.”

Selling the administration’s record is also the campaign’s plan to counter the voter concerns about Biden’s advanced age, Fulks said. The president would be 86 at the end of a second term. (Biden is just three years older than Trump.)

“We have a simple formula for that and that’s results,” Fulks said. “Age equals wisdom equals results and experience.”

“This election is not going to be about age,” Fulks maintained. “This election is about freedom and democracy and the fact that Democrats, under President Biden’s leadership, believe that people deserve more freedom, not less and Republicans want to roll that back and rip it away.”

Raddatz followed up, however, to note that “that is what your opponents are hammering about President Biden. Donald Trump talks about it constantly.”

“I’m sure it’s much easier for them to talk about age than it is to talk about the fact that they want to rip away a woman’s right to choose or take away reproductive freedom from a third of women across this country that are living under national abortion ban because of Donald Trump,” Fulks responded.

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