Rangel touted his experience and relationship with President Barack Obama Thursday night at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.
Rev. Michael Walrond Jr. made a point of saying the district didn't need a career politician.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat said the president had asked Rangel to step down several years ago during the ethics controversy. Obama did not officially get involved in the controversy, but made comments at the time that implied Rangel should step down.
Rangel is running for his 23rd term, after first winning the seat in 1970.
The primary election is June 24.