With a focus on climate change, Washington Gov. Inslee enters 2020 presidential race

Posted on: March 1st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Mat Hayward/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Washington’s Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, emphasizing the “existential threat” of climate change to the safety of the United States, officially announced his candidacy for president Friday morning, joining a field of Democrats that’s already swelled to more than a dozen candidates.

Inslee, who also represented Washington in Congress for more than 20 years, is the first governor to officially enter the 2020 race.

“We went to the moon, and created technologies that have changed the world,” Inslee said in his announcement video posted Friday. “Our country’s next mission must be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time: defeating climate change.”

While Inslee, 68, was elected governor in 2012, he doesn’t have much name recognition outside his home state. He now faces the difficult task in breaking through in a field of Democrats that already includes six U.S. senators, two current and former members of Congress and a former cabinet secretary.

But the Seattle native, who’s held elected office since 1989, is betting the growing threat of climate change will be a top-of-mind issue for Democratic voters.

“This is a moment. This is the 11th hour to defeat climate change. It is a moment of great urgency, but it is also this incredible opportunity to seize for job creation,” Inslee said in an interview with ABC News last week at the National Governor’s Association Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.

“Mother Nature is making it break through, not me. Because Mother Nature, aggravated by climate change and carbon pollution, has burned down Paradise, California, drowned Houston, and is now drowning Miami Beach,” Inslee added. “This wake-up call is being delivered, and people are responding to it.”

Inslee will officially kick off his campaign with an event Friday afternoon in Seattle at a solar energy company, touting his work as governor growing his state’s clean energy industry.

The governor also will appear on ABC News’ This Week with George Stephanopolous, on Sunday, and will make his first trip to Iowa as a candidate on Tuesday, followed by campaign trips to Nevada and California later this month.

Should Inslee confront President Donald Trump in 2020, it won’t be the first time.

During an event last year at the White House, Inslee called out the president over a proposal to arm teachers in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“I just suggest we need a little less tweeting here, a little more listening,” Inslee said at the time.

Inslee also said Trump is a “pessimist,” and pointed to his failure to pass a major infrastructure plan and education reform, two things he’s accomplished as governor, as evidence that Trump’s ill-equipped to handle the growing threat of climate change.

“He’s a fearful, little man — he’s a pessimist who doesn’t think we can tame this. So he’s running away from it,” Inslee told ABC News. “The best way to defeat him is to provide a character, an example of the American character, that is resonant with who we are as Americans: optimistic, future-oriented, open to everybody to be who you are.”

“I’ve already confronted him at the White House last year,” Inslee added. “So I’m comfortable in that confrontation.”

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