Jay Inslee Quits 2020 Race — Before His Long-Awaited Climate Change Debate

Democratic presidential candidate Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Organizing Convention in San Francisco, Saturday, June 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state announced Wednesday evening on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show that he is leaving the 2020 presidential race — two weeks before a climate change debate for which he had campaigned.

Maddow began by asking Inslee if he had some news to announce. And he did:

This show has been so good to me, this is sort of the book ends of my campaign. We started saying climate change had to be the number one job in the United States. I felt good saying that the first days of my campaign. I feel very good saying that now. And the reason is, this has become more urgent. A billion tons of ice melted in Greenland the other day. But we’ve also had so many people I’ve met who are inspiring, who want us to act, who have helped me. We had 130,000 people help me in this campaign. But it’s become clear that I’m not going to be carrying the ball, I’m not going to be president. So I’m withdrawing, tonight, from the race. But I have to tell you, look — I’ve been fighting climate change for 25 years, and I’ve never been so confident of the ability of America now to reach critical mass, to move the ball. I believe we are going to have a candidate to fight this battle. I’m inspired by the people i’ve met across the country, the young people in the Sunrise movement, and the climate strikers — these people have given me confidence we can move ahead. So I’m not going to be carrying the ball, but we’re going to make sure somebody is.

Inslee had seemed to hint he would leave the race on Tuesday evening when he tweeted a recap of his campaign — a lengthy thread looking back on several months on the trail:

Maddow asked Inslee if he felt he had made an impact on the race by making climate change a major issue. He said that he had, and pointed to the fact that his climate change policy had been called the “gold standard” (by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the author of the “Green New Deal”).

Inslee had insisted for months that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hold a debate focused entirely on the climate change issue.

The party declined to do so, but CNN agreed, and is staging a town hall in two weeks, on Sep. 4, in New York, for the remaining Democratic presidential candidates.

However, Inslee — ironically — will not be among the candidates any longer.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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