Gov. Jay Inslee

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee addressed a crowd on March 16 at the Governor’s Mansion. Inslee is running for president in the 2020 election with a focus on climate change.

OLYMPIA — Does Gov. Jay Inslee have what it takes to become the country’s next president?

Inslee discussed his credentials and presidential campaign on March 16. His speech was part of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Legislative Day, an annual event for news organizations to connect with state leaders.

Following are highlights of Inslee’s speech.

Connecting across the country

“[Campaigning has] been pretty inspiring because the people I have met have been so interested and committed in this process; people who really want to make the right decision, who are very open to ideas,” Inslee said. “Everywhere I’ve gone, people have opened up their doors and been interested in what I’m about.”

Inslee recalled visiting a woman who lives near Los Angeles. The woman’s driveway was made of in-laid rock and withstood last summer’s wildfires, a detail that stood out to Inslee.

“She said, ‘What we lack right now is hope. You coming here has given us a little bit of hope,’” Inslee said. “I think in the next election cycle we’re looking for somebody to provide that spark of hope. I hope to be that person.”

Seeing people taking the 2020 presidential election seriously has been heartening, Inslee said.

“They remain committed to making a good choice in democracy,” Inslee said. “They have not given up on democracy after all the chaos, shenanigans, divisiveness, disappointment and tweets of the last two years.”

People being open-minded about the presidency has been healthy, Inslee said.

“To me, it’s a good sign, particularly when you’re an underdog like I am,” Inslee said.

Later that night, Inslee traveled to New York City for the March 15 Global Strike for Climate Change. Students throughout the world left or didn’t attend school to demand better climate change education and more action on climate change.

If he stands a chance

“The presidency United States is a unique position in the world. There is no other position in the world literally where you have to be aware of what’s going on that afternoon in Yemen and what happened that afternoon on Main Street in a small town,” Inslee said. “You have to have a response for them within five nanoseconds. It is a challenging issue because there are a lot of issues in this world.”

Inslee’s experiences of serving the state Legislature, two congressional districts and six years as governor have prepared him, he said.

“I do believe I’m as well equipped or more than anyone else in the race of the knowledge of these issues,” Inslee said. “Somebody was talking about the New Green Deal the other day saying, ‘Do you know about the New Green Deal?’ I said, ‘Look, I wrote the book 11 years ago.’”

The numerous amount of Democrats running in the election is one of Inslee’s concerns, he said.

“I think a real high priority in life is defeating Donald Trump,” Inslee said. “And to do that, I’m not sure it’s really wise to have unilateral disarmament in a campaign to defeat him. That’s something the Democrats have to be aware of.”

Climate change

Inslee isn’t worried his focus on climate change will deter voters concerned about social justice, he said.

“Climate change policy is social reform. It is equity,” Inslee said. “We know the gross inequity of climate change because it victimizes marginalized communities first; those who are breathing the worst fumes because they’re poor, living next to freeways and industries.”

During the 2019 legislative session, Inslee put forward a variety of bills focused on climate change.

“When we fashion an effort against climate change, it’s really important in my mind to have not just a transition. We need a just transition,” Inslee said. “You have to focus on helping marginalized communities.”

Inslee noted that climate change is an issue seen throughout the state.

“Climate change is multiple issues,” Inslee said. “It’s an umbrella issue.”

Alyssa Evans is a staff writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact her at 360-642-8181 or aevans@chinookobserver.com

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