In This Episode
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joins Dan Pfeiffer from the campaign trail in New Hampshire to talk about why climate change is the defining issue of his presidential campaign, what he’s learned from running a state government and his plan to beat Donald Trump.
Learn more about Jay Inslee here.
- CNN: Jay Inslee Fast Facts
- Business Insider: Jay Inslee is running for president in 2020. Here’s everything we know about the candidate and how he stacks up against the competition.
- Slate: The Radical Simplicity of Jay Inslee’s 2020 Campaign
- Associated Press: 2020 presidential candidate Jay Inslee releases tax returns
- Open Secrets: Super PAC supporting Jay Inslee drops more than $1 million early in race
- Washington Post: The Trailer: Jay Inslee is cheerfully campaigning and issuing apocalyptic warnings
- US News: Inslee Says He Welcomes Super PAC Help in Presidential Bid
- Politico: Campaign finance reformers call on Jay Inslee to disavow 2020 super PAC
- The Hill: Inslee super PAC hitting Iowa airwaves
- The Atlantic: Jay Inslee’s Risky Bet for 2020
- FiveThirtyEight: How Jay Inslee Could Win The 2020 Democratic Nomination
- Vox: Jay Inslee just launched a presidential campaign that will be all about climate change
- Vox: Meet the first Democrat running for president on climate change
- CNN: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announces 2020 presidential bid
- New York Times: Jay Inslee, Washington Governor and Environmentalist, Enters 2020 Race
- Politico: Washington Gov. Inslee bolsters political team with eye on 2020
- Politico: ‘You couldn’t spend a dime?’: Jay Inslee ticks off the wrong state
- CNN: Wind power doesn’t cause cancer. It creates jobs, Jay Inslee says
- Mother Jones: Can Jay Inslee Make Climate Change More Than a Campaign Talking Point?
- Mother Jones: This 16-Year-Old Founded a “Movement of Unstoppable Youth” to Save the Planet
- PolitiFact: Fact-checking climate change crusader Jay Inslee’s mission to make military greener
- The Progressive: Jay Inslee’s Climate Change Gambit
- PolitiFact: Did Washington state build $6 billion in wind farms over a dozen years?
- CNBC: Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee visits wildfire victims in California with climate fight message
- Politico: Jay Inslee calls Trump’s wind energy doubts ‘moronic’
- Medium: Clean electricity, clean buildings and clean transportation: Inslee plan would launch comprehensive clean energy transition and significantly drive down emissions
- Medium: Inslee announces initiative to pardon marijuana misdemeanors
- CrossCut: Jay Inslee’s about-face on Boeing’s big tax break
- CNBC: Trump’s trade war ‘undermines’ everything the state of Washington has done to build global markets by Gov. Jay Inslee
- Seattle Times: Inslee signs order limiting Washington state’s help in enforcing Trump’s immigration policies
- The Verge: STATES MOVE TO PROTECT THEIR IMMIGRATION DATA FROM THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
- Chicago Tribune: Washington is first state to sue Trump over immigration order
- The Hill: Washington governor pushes public option legislation
- US News: Gov. Jay Inslee Signs Abortion Insurance Bill
- Mother Jones: Jay Inslee Calls for the Nuclear Option to Combat Climate Change
- Spokesman-Review: ‘It’s the law’ Inslee says of state patrol security on campaign trips
- Washington Post: Jay Inslee’s insightful comments on white privilege and discrimination
- CNBC: Jay Inslee once confronted Trump about arming teachers. Now gun control is a key to the Democrat’s 2020 ambitions
Pod Save America
April 16, 2019
Interview: Dan Pfeiffer and Jay Inslee
Dan Pfeiffer He’s the governor of Washington and a Democrat running for president. Jay Inslee. Governor thanks for being here.
Jay Inslee [00:00:50] Yeah. Beautiful day to run for president.
Pfeiffer [00:00:53] Aren’t they all.
Inslee [00:00:54] I think we picked the right state, too.
Pfeiffer [00:00:55] That’s right. You were the first ever Pod save America live show guest. When we were in Seattle early 2017.
Inslee [00:01:04] Now you guys owe your tremendous success to me there.
Pfeiffer [00:01:07] That’s what we tell everyone. It’s all because of Governor Inslee. I wanted to start with the issue that you’ve put at the center of your campaign: climate change. You have billed yourself as the climate change candidate. You’ve said that what distinguishes you from other candidates is that this is going to climate change campaign. What does that mean in terms of how you’re running your campaign? How are you different from other candidates in terms of climate change?
Inslee [00:01:28] Well number one I am the only candidate who is saying very specifically and unequivocally that defeating climate change has to be the number one priority of the United States. It has to be the first foremost and paramount duty of the next president. And I firmly believe that. I believe the urgency of the moment is unparalleled actually in human history because we’ve got exactly one more chance to turn this ship around or our children and our grandchildren and live very very degraded existences. It is an existential threat that is not an overstatement. The science is clear on this. It is accelerating. It’s now starting to touch us where we live. It’s burning down our towns like Paradise California where I visited. It’s flooding the Midwest. I was in Hamburg, Iowa yesterday where a town– it’s been there since 1858–never flooded before and it’s been virtually destroyed. We’re having to raise are our roads in the seacoast here in New Hampshire. They’re you know they’ve got sea coast issues. So everywhere you go you’re learning that this is a beast that has to be confronted. And and so we have to have a president to do this. And I am saying unequivocally that it has to be job one because it is not job one. It will not get done. It takes as you know enormous capital to restructure your economy. And that’s fundamentally what we’re going to have to do. And so that is a unique position to have said that. It’s also unique because I actually believe it. It has an added benefit because I truly believe this. I’ve been working on this for over 20 years, co-authored a book about it in 2007, helped fund the start the U.S. Climate Alliance a couple of years ago and we now have 23 states in that regard, introduced legislation in 2003. So this has been a longtime pursuit of mine and I think that I’m uniquely qualified amongst the field to understand from a policy perspective what really needs to get done. And the third uniqueness and there may be a theme in our discussion is that instead of having just talked about this I’ve actually done things about it and we’ve, you know, we’ve developed a huge wind industry, six billion dollar wind industry in our state in part because of the initiative I worked on. We’ve built the spin off companies because of my clean energy development fund. We are electrifying our transportation system now. We’re going to have 50,000 electric cars on the road here fairly shortly. We just passed a 100 percent clean electrical grid bill through our house and I hope to sign that shortly. So that is unique having been an executive and I have learned having been a member of Congress and an executive that there is a difference between making speeches and actually figuring out the mechanics and the hard work to get something done. So those are three differences that make me unique.
Pfeiffer [00:04:26] What is the Inslee plan to deal with climate change looks like?
Inslee [00:04:31] Well we will be rolling out a very comprehensive plan here and in the weeks to come. But I’ll give you just a summary if you will. Bottom line is that we need to have a clean energy economy in the next several decades and that has to happen. It is a scientific necessity. There is no doubt about this. And the good news is we know we are capable of doing this because we’re seeing the beginning of that technological revolution. We’re seeing wind turbines and in Iowa. By the way Trump is wrong. Wind turbines do not cause cancer they cause jobs. OK. This is about jobs fundamentally and it is important to say that because this is a unique moment where you have two things happening at the same time just at the right time. Number one it’s a matter of urgent peril. But it is a matter of tremendous economic promise. So our plan is to build on economic promise of clean energy jobs that are now starting across the nation. We would have a Multi Sectoral Approach where we basically go and look at our economy and build new clean energy jobs to build this decarbonised system. In transportation: it means we need to electrify transportation system which we are doing rapidly. Both will buy some regulatory touch and some incentives to help people finance it. It means building electric charging stations up and down our roads which we’re doing in Washington state. It means doing the R&D it is necessary to continue the development of batteries that are so important to the whole clean energy world. So you need to build a decarbonised transportation system. That means building enormous infrastructure because we know they can’t build a birdhouse in Washington D.C. but we have 70 billion dollars of infrastructure and transportation, 70 percent of which is for public transportation right now which is low carbon. So when your transportation system is a dramatic reversal of the huge carbon dioxide emissions that we have now. We need an enormous R & D effort. Our research and development has been pathetic in the past. We spent more money developing one kind of Jeep than the entire clean energy system of the United States. It means going to a fossil free electrical grid. And as I indicated we just passed a bill a couple days ago that would have 100 percent electrical grid moving fairly rapidly and were closing off our coal fired plants just in the next several years and throughout this 100 percent clean electrical grid, millions of jobs associated with building everything from wind turbines and solar plants to public transportation and effort to finance this in part by removing the enormous subsidies that taxpayers are shackled with. Twenty seven billion dollars right now go to the oil gas companies that gravy train needs to stop and throughout this. We need to embed the idea and adjust transition. Adjust transition means you take care of the victims frequently communities of poverty and communities of color to focus our efforts on the first victims and also help those who were in industries that are going to transition to do the things like we’re doing in Centralia in our coal plant which we have a 55 million dollar fund to help the people during that transition. So that’s a quick run through the future.
Pfeiffer [00:07:56] So a couple of questions on that. Recognizing that you’re going to roll out all the details later on, but do you see your plan as dramatically different, slightly different as the Green New Deal that has been proposed in Congress?
Inslee [00:08:08] Oh I think it’s very much consistent with the goals of this and by the way I think the Green New Deal has been helpful. It’s helpful because it’s got people talking about climate change so that’s good. It’s helpful because it’s raised people’s ambitions as to the scope of this and it’s helped bring in more people communities of color and those in all kinds of new communities to see themselves and part of this discussion. So I think it’s been really helpful. But we all know including the drafters of the Green New Deal, we’re going to have to all work together to develop the policies to actually make it happen and that’s where I come in working with other people to do that. We’re going to have these very specific proposals and it will be based on 20 years of work. This is not a bumper sticker. This is a lifetime work of mine and I’m excited about rolling it out.
Pfeiffer [00:08:53] So the politics of climate change are very difficult and they have been for a long time. You know in your state this past fall there was a carbon fee that was on the ballot. You worked very hard to get that elected the state rejected it in some places and defeated very handily in the rural areas. What did you learn from that defeat that you would apply to efforts in an entirely administration to enact climate change legislation that will require, even if you get rid of the filibuster, someone like Joe Manchin or other conservative Democrats to vote for it?
Inslee [00:09:23] Well number one: I learned that, look, you’re up against the biggest special interests in world history. The oil and gas companies putting 32 million dollars to defeat this. And as you know with 32 million dollars you can blow a lot of smoke and create a lot of discordant and deceptive information and that’s hard to beat at the ballot. I learned that the most important renewable energy source in America is is perseverance meaning you can’t give up. You just gotta go to Plan B C and D and that’s what we’re doing. And the good news is that we have multiple avenues to to defeat climate change. Not just one policy or your or you’re toast. There’s all kinds of policies and so what we’re doing now is we turn right around and developed a policy, a portfolio of things that if I get them through my legislature we’ll have roughly the same carbon pollution reduction as the initiative would have had. I’m very excited about getting those those things through. The third thing I have learned and it’s not so much about the initiative is that the the jobs you can create here are not just in urban areas. This is a small town rural job development program that we’re going to be talking about on the trail. So you know our carbon fiber manufacturing for electric cars–this is in Seattle, it’s in Moses Lake, small town in central Washington–Our biggest solar panel isn’t in Everett and you know in the Western courts in a town of 300 in eastern Washington this is a job creator in multiple places and that’s important for Democrats. We need to win in the Midwest. We need to do a little better in some of these areas and this is a great job creator to move forward. Now. You mentioned the filibuster I don’t want to leave the conversation without talking about that. There is absolutely no way to make progress on this without eliminating the filibuster. And that’s why I’m dedicated to that and I’ve been saying this for several years and was the first candidate to say that running for president because you really cannot be dedicated to climate change legislation or health care legislation or anything of any dimension unless the filibuster goes. It has been weaponized by Mitch McConnell and we have to step up to the plate and realize that senatorial push needs to go. Now how do we do it with the Democrats? You might not get a vote at times with maybe one Democrat. We’ve got to pick up a couple more seats to give us a little bigger margin and the voters are going to have a shot. I think in 2020, we have a good reason to believe if we buckle down we can win more seats. I believe that.
Pfeiffer [00:11:53] I’m glad you brought up the filibuster. I wanted to just run through a couple of similar Norm-related proposals that you have been talked about on the trial so Electoral College?
Inslee [00:12:03] Look I believe in democracy and then the Electoral College is an artifact of the 13 colonies and it needs to go. We have popularly elected officials– it is kind of the same idea of the reason to get rid of the filibuster.–You should have one person one vote and don’t give whoever wants the status quo one and a half votes in a filibuster or you know in privileged states in the Electoral College. So yes. And by the way we can do this without a constitutional amendment because we have this state’s agreement where we have states that have agreed, and my state is one of them, to be bound by the popular vote to cast our electoral votes that way. So this can be done even without a constitutional amendment.
Pfeiffer [00:12:45] Statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico?
Inslee [00:12:48] I think it’s the right thing. I supported it back in ’93 ’94 and it’s even become more acute as those populations have grown and you see a little bit why it’s necessary when you see how callously indifferent Donald Trump has been to folks who don’t look like him. He has two views of that and statehood is– it’s been demonstrated why statehood is important so that these Americans can participate in the process.
Pfeiffer [00:13:16] Last one on this topic: changes to the composition or term limits of the Supreme Court?
Inslee [00:13:21] Why, I think the thing we should start with is making sure that that seat that was stolen is regained. And you know if there is another nomination by a Republican president we need to make sure that seat is remedied because by the way that seat was not just stolen from Democrats it was stolen from the American people. I would not totally rule out other issues, amongst all of them I’ve heard of any changes in the Supreme Court would be an idea of having rotating members in the court of appeals. So you’d have a broader group of judges that could sit over time to sort of reduce the politicization but I’m not sold on that yet. Let’s just make sure we right the way, first, the way it is which is to regain that seat.
Pfeiffer [00:14:06] Last week Senator Sanders introduced the latest version of his Medicare for all legislation. It was co-sponsored by nearly all of your fellow candidates who are currently serving in the Senate. What is your reaction to the Sanders proposal and do you have a health care, Medicare for all or health care plan for your campaign?
Inslee [00:14:25] Yeah, well the first thing I would say is regrettably Senator Sanders bill is going nowhere because he won’t come out against the filibuster. Unless you get rid of the filibuster there’s no way major health care reform is going to pass. That’s just a reality. So I’m hopeful over time he will follow my lead and join me in saying the filibuster needs to go. My view is that my state is a little bit of a template for what we should do on a federal level. We hope to be the first state to embrace a public option. I have a bill advancing right now and we’ve been very successful in the implementation of Obamacare. We’ve had one of the largest drops of uninsured of any state because our implementation has been so effective and it’s one of the things I’ve learned being governor–you actually got to produce you got implement it’s not just putting it on paper. Our opioid efforts have been very, not totally successful, but other people are looking at us for guidance. Then on the federal level, obviously we need universal health care and I believe the next step ought to be a Medicare for all who want it right now which I think you can pass rather than a 10 year argument which gives you a lower age for automatic eligibility for Medicare and crucially an ability for everyone who wants it to to enter the Medicare system and I think that’s the most rapid way that we can make a transition here together with obviously bargaining with pharmaceuticals so we can reduce the pharmaceutical costs that people are exposed to.
Pfeiffer [00:15:55] And another issue that has a lot of discussion on the campaign trail is gun safety laws and you lost your seat in Congress for, in part, because of votes on on gun gun control laws. What did you learn from that and how would you approach that issue as president?
Inslee [00:16:14] Well what I what I learned as you know I cast one of the pivotal votes during the Clinton registration to ban assault weapons and when I did that I knew I was jeopardizing my seat in Congress. And that did happen. I was freed for other duties by the voters. And you know it is painful to lose something you really believe in which is working in Congress. But what I learned is is that you never regret what you do for conviction. And I’ve never regretted that vote. I’ve always believed it was right vote then I believe it’s right vote now. I really had no regrets and the thing that shows there is a little justice in this sorry world is that now I’m governor of a state that has embraced three measures, very aggressive measures, actually probably one of the leading states on gun safety now. So we’ve adopted bans on you know bump stocks we’ve adopted extreme risk protection acts. We’ve we’ve adopted increasing age for, you know assault weapons. We’ve adopted bills to require gun owner responsibility. So now as governor I’ve been able to move the ball and we are now, you know the NRA is in retreat in our state because we have a governor who’s been able to push back against them with the courage of my convictions and that’s working. So I think the country is ready for common sense gun legislation. I’m happy to pursue it as president and we need somebody with a spine to do it. I think I’ve demonstrated I have that capability.
Pfeiffer [00:17:41] And I take it from this you think that politics have changed on this issue since the 90s?
Inslee [00:17:45] Yes. Yes. There’s no question that politics have changed. You know there’s kind of a general theme here. I think politics is changing much more rapidly than many politicians understand. [They’re] changed on gun safety dramatically because the losses in our schools. And I’m willing to confront Trump on this by the way I went to the White House and personally confronted him after the shootings and he wanted to arm first grade teachers with pistols on their hip. But I went looked him in the eye and said, “That’s a ridiculous idea. And by the way you should quit tweeting so much and listen to educators.” They’re changing on marijuana where we have legalized marijuana in our state and it has been a unbridled success in a variety of ways. And I have, they’re changing on issues of criminal justice reform where I now have offered pardons to people who had marijuana convictions and I’ve ended the death penalty. They’re changing on climate change very rapidly because people have seen the destruction. This is no longer just a line on a graph. It’s actual seeing cities burned down. They’re changing on the willingness of people to embrace helping working people. That’s why I’ve been successful. We’ve passed the best paid family leave in America. We’ve passed the highest minimum wage I’ve been the first person, to be the first governor to pass net neutrality. We’ve passed a gender pay equity bill because we have this radical notion that women should be paid the same as men. The point I want to make is I think we need leaders who recognize the foment and the willingness of Americans to move forward and we’ve done that in my state. And I think this is a template for success for the United States. All of the things I’ve just mentioned that we’ve accomplished in Washington I think we can do federally.
Pfeiffer [00:19:33] And what would your approach be that would be different than the one President Obama took to try to get some of those things done? Like how does that changing politics manifest itself in a strategy to enact these pieces of legislation, these policies?
Inslee [00:19:45] Well I think the things we’ve done in Washington should be federal policies. And there’s a couple that we have not yet passed that I hope to in the future. And again I believe as the politics change, we will be able to do this. Why could I do this where the incredibly talented amazingly dynamic President Obama can not? Because we’re later in the in the arc of history. There’s more people want to do it now. And I think we’re in that position to recognize that ability to do that.
Pfeiffer [00:20:43] Another issue that’s gotten a lot of discussion on the campaign trail is the role that large tech companies have in our economy. You’re the Governor of Washington state and Seattle is one of the tech centers in America. Amazon is headquartered there. Microsoft’s also in your state. If you were to be president you would have regulatory authority over these companies. And is Amazon in your view too big too powerful? In need of a greater regulatory scrutiny? How would you approach these companies?
Inslee [00:21:12] Well I think that there is a need for for some approaches to some of these issues that needs modernization regardless of the size of the company. If you look at Internet privacy for instance we need privacy legislation that will give consumers and users adequate degree of privacy. We need that for small medium and large companies. And that’s why we are moving forward with a privacy bill right now. My legislature is not a done deal yet. We’re working on some kinks. If we get it passed it’ll probably be on the equivalence actually better I think than the California law. And I think that that’s kind of thing that we ought to do federally. I think that we have to look at tax policy, that where we’ve had tax policies were large corporations which where they have not simply paid their freight. Now that’s most obviously apparent in the oil and gas industry and coal industry where there’s 27 billion dollars of of subsidy that needs to be eliminated. We need to take that money back not not reaching into taxpayers pockets and take it out to give to these companies that have no particular claim to it and that money can be used for clean energy efforts as well. I think that we need to look for ways to not allow large corporations to hold communities hostage on the issue of jobs. And there’s been this pernicious practice where communities corporation will say, “you know if I don’t get a tax break of X, I want to move 20,000 jobs somewhere,” and then have two communities compete to the lowest common denominator. I think that we ought to think about ways to use the federal tax code to eliminate their ability to do those. I think on the antitrust side there are some things that antitrust should always be under review because you have to look at it under the current situation. There might be some things–we can look at that. I’m not necessarily about that there should be some like just bright line of dollars. I don’t think that probably gets to the real heart of the problem in antitrust sense which is to really look at you know what the impact is in that particular industry. I think that’s a better approach moving forward.
Pfeiffer [00:23:28] Governor, I also wanted to ask you about another issue involving criminal justice reform and electoral reform. In the state of Vermont, this is something Bernie Sanders has been talking about recently, voting rights are inalienable in that felons do not have to reapply for them afterwards. Is that something that you think should be nationwide? Should voting rights be an inalienable in this country?
Inslee [00:23:48] Well in a sense they are or can be in our state because you just have to apply and if you if you’ve fulfilled your obligation. And we’ve reduced what you have to do at this point to make it achievable. Yes we want people when they’ve done their pennance to be able to regain their place in democracy and that’s important to give people respect, to make them feel they’re part of the community, and everything we can do to help them get back into jobs is very very important. We’re doing some really good things in my state criminal justice reform. One of the which is banning the box. So right now, unfortunately a lot of places you know on your job application they ask “Have you ever been convicted of a crime” and if you say yes you never even get a second look. So we’ve banned that process. We have eliminated the death penalty because of the racial disparity that has been so pernicious through our criminal justice system. I mentioned that we. I’ve offered, I’m the first governor to offer pardons for those for marijuana convictions because the drug war we know has been one of the reasons for such high rates of incarceration of communities of color. So we’re moving forward. And a lot of different ways to reduce some of the racial disparity in our system. And I’m glad we’re moving forward. I hope we do it federally.
Pfeiffer [00:25:09] If you were president you obviously have the ability to give out pardons for those sorts of unfair drug related sentences that’s something you would be open to doing as you came in office?
Inslee [00:25:18] I would certainly look at this because I think we’ve seen particularly in the drug war onerous measures that have that have created more heartache than they’ve created safety for citizens. And I think that part of the things I’ve done on the pardons and legalization of marijuana which I believe we should do federally obviously which I would suggest to people.–We’ve had a very good success on this. We’ve had no great significant increase for useful involvement. We’ve had seven-hundred-million dollars generated for schools, for kids and health care for people. So I would look at that. Think about that: I can’t tell you the really blanket thing I can commit to you right now but I think it is something worthwhile looking at.
Pfeiffer [00:26:01] On the foreign policy side, Bibi Netanyahu won re-election recently which poses great if not mortal threat to the idea of a peace process and a two state solution. As president how would you look to reinvigorate that process and engage with both the Israelis and the Palestinians?
Inslee [00:26:21] Well I would start with the presumption that I’ve been a long supporter of a democratic and secure Israel. It is a, it’s a dream to continue that and I’d want to be committed to the security of Israel but I would also be committed to a two state solution which Netanyahu’s most recent comments have jeopardized and I would be willing to have that creative discussion to try to keep this effort alive to try to get some solution here. And I am willing to have that conversation and hopefully it’s productive. Now I don’t have, because no human has, a way to snap your fingers and solve this problem. But I think a willingness to have a simultaneously commitment to the security of Israel and a commitment to have a democratic Israel which is very difficult if you don’t eventually end up with a two state solution to have both of those. So I would be committed to every way, productively, to try to achieve that.
Pfeiffer [00:27:28] Another issue the president’s face is the relationship between presidents and Congress when it comes to using military force. And you know we have been operating off of a now 17-year-old Authorization for Use of Military Force from after September 11th to authorize troops in Syria is now Mike Pompeo has floated a theory that you could use that for a conflict with Iran. How would you think as president about the balance between asking Congress for authority and the inherent authority of a commander in chief to wage war?
Inslee [00:28:05] Well the first thing is I wouldn’t ask for the authority if it was a, if it was a boneheaded idea. And that’s one of the reasons I was such a vocal opponent of the Iraq war.
Pfeiffer [00:28:14] I Tee-ed you up for the Iraq war thing.
Inslee [00:28:15] Thank you. It’s still very painful thing because I saw a disaster looming. It was clearly based on intelligence that was puffed up. It was based on people who had no concept what they were doing during the Bush administration. And it was very painful to me because I saw this. It was like watching a train headed for a canyon where the bridge was out and I could not stop it. And I did everything I could to stop it. So the first thing I would do was to be appropriately humble on our ability to think that we can reshape cultures and countries. And I think that we’ve seen quite a number of stakes my lifetime where presidents have been a little bit too conceited about their ability to reshape other cultures. And so I would start there. I do think that in the sanctions for war that they have to be much more limited. And I voted for the, essentially after 9/11, I voted for the for the authorization. Never dreamed that it would have been to this extent. And if we had our life to live over again we would have tried to put more side boards on it but I think we certainly need to do, do that right now because of this administration’s absolute chaotic unprincipled, Go-it-alone policy that threatens the Iran deal and if they’re seriously thinking of that–and you never know what Trumps really seriously thinking about–but if they really are then the Congress doesn’t need to specifically rein that in and maybe there’s some possibility to do that because some of the Republicans are starting to understand the danger he represents. When you have Senator Grassley calling Trump’s view on wind power idiotic you know maybe we’ll get some help to try to rein in this rogue president.
Pfeiffer [00:30:04] You are one of, I think we’re at 15, 16 [now 18] candidates running for president. It’s a historically large, historically diverse, historically talented field of Democrats. As you think about your campaign, how do you plan to stand out in a way to allow you to make your case to voters and have a real shot to win this nomination?
Inslee [00:30:24] Well first off I respect all the other candidates. I think there’s probably about 15 of them who would make fine vice presidents in their future. So we’ll see about that. Well look I started out in two principal means: Number one as we’ve talked about I’m the only candidate who’s committed to make defeating climate change number one and I think that’s a very important thing because I’ve learned as a governor to ‘govern is to choose’ and setting a priority is the most important thing you do as a president. And so I have laid out my prioritisation. No other candidate has been willing to commit to that. And I think it’s probably because they don’t believe it or maybe they’re just afraid because they listen to their pollsters and think that this too isn’t important enough. I disagree with him on that, in fact there is a poll in Iowa of Democratic primary voters showing that defeating climate change is tied for the number one priority of voters. So that is a fundamental difference. It is a fundamental difference, having had the chops to be able to do this because I’ve been at this for 20 years and it’s a fundamental difference that I’ve actually achieved progress in my state knowing how to actually get this done. And the deeper ones, the additional one because some people said well is that the only thing you’re running on. I said, “no, I’m running on the fact that I’m the only executive who’s got the best paid family leave”– and it is–I’ve passed the best paid family leave in the United States–because I believe very intrinsically that we have to allow working families to be able to have a life. We’ve passed the best, the best minimum wage. No one else can see that in this race. No one else can say that they signed the first net neutrality bill in the United States and this is something I worked on in Congress for quite a period of time. Couldn’t get it done in Congress. But I got it done as a chief executive. We’ve adopted the gender pay equity bill and no one else can say that they’ve got one I don’t think is good as is we do. We’ve done a reproductive Parity Act. There are a few other states that have that but I think in this field they’re probably the only one passed one. As a governor, and I think another point is that I’ve been able to have some real successes even with the Republican Senate, So we passed, a couple of years ago the best and biggest transportation package in the history of our state. 70 billion dollars worth of work. And I did that even with the Republican Senate. We had a similar success on education funding and through working for a lot of equity to get a bill through. We have several billion dollars of additional help including real big advances in early childhood education. And this is something I’ve believed in for a quarter of a century and we’ve now got slots for an additional eight thousand students. We’ve had a tuition decrease. We’ve had one of the most robust richest financial plan for for scholarships for our students. And importantly of all the things that I’ve been able to do, One of the to me, the most gratifying is I’ve got 12 percent pay increases for educators last year. This is a, it’s a big deal to me because I think the best thing you need is a is a good teacher in the classroom. My dad was a biology teacher so I’m a believer in this.
Pfeiffer [00:33:40] The first debates coming up in a couple of months here. The DNC put in place standards to get into that debate involving polling numbers and an ability to generate contributions online. How is your campaign doing in meeting that threshold?
Inslee [00:33:53] We’re still working on it. And as you know anyone who would like to help on that get sixty five thousand donors and go to Jay Inslee dot com and I do hope people will think about that because regardless who you want to serve, we want to make sure climate change is on that debate stage. We want to make sure we’ve got somebody who’s very aggressive on this issue who is never gonna let this happen again where in the last three presidential cycles we had exactly four minutes of debate time. So if you believe climate change needs to be on that stage you can go to Jay Inslee dot com and can send anything from a buck on up that would be wonderful to make sure that that works.
Pfeiffer [00:34:31] Do you think the thresholds the DNC set are fair or good idea?
Inslee [00:34:35] I haven’t really thought through that, whatever they are, they are, you know having some threshold makes sense I couldn’t argue with that right now.
Pfeiffer [00:34:44] Last question for you governor: Democrats very much want, in polls, they said they want someone who can win. Which is an obvious answer because why would you want someone who would lose, right? But the ability to–and everyone’s gonna have their own argument, you know, no one really knows what electability is. Every candidate will have an argument –whoever the nominee is has to be someone who can deal with Trump, right, and their are different theories about how to do that. And I think a lot of us believe that the approach we took in 2016 obviously did not work and Trump was able to dominate the conversation and drown out Democratic messaging. If you were the Democratic nominee what would be your theory about dealing with Trump as he’s giving you some ridiculous nickname, he’s tweeting about you, you know you’re seeing absurd, unfair and inaccurate attacks. How would you navigate those waters?
Inslee [00:35:30] Well I know he likes nicknames but the only thing he’s going to call me is Mr. President and that’s about all he’s going to get to do. Look I feel very comfortable in a confrontation with him in part because I’ve already had one at the White House that I described and I think I’m a very good contrast because I am an optimist. Look I’m an optimist about defeating climate change. I really believe we can and will do this. He is a pessimist. I’m a person who believes in the ‘can do’ spirit of America. He’s in the ‘can’t do.’ “We just can’t do this we can’t invent new wind turbines right. We can’t and we can’t invent electric cars.” I’m a person who believes in the expansionist nature of the American story that we’re we have been in a very unique country that has led the world in so many different ways. He just wants to hide from the world and and break up every alliance we have and have a much diminished view of the ambitions of the United States. I’m a person who believes in diversity and inclusion. He believes that diversity is a vice because he is, he is threatened by people who don’t look like him. He fundamentally believes that for him to win somebody else has to lose and that’s why he’s damaged so much our international relationships. I believe that he’d do better when you work with other countries, that’s one of the reasons I committed to the Paris climate change agreement, so I think I’m a very good contrast to him as a person in outlook. And I also believe in my ability to win tough races. One of the reasons is we, this last year won seven governorships while I was the chair of the Democratic Governors Association and one of the reasons we won those seats is we insisted on having messages that responded to the desire for economic growth, for job growth, for better schools for better roads. And we addressed that sort of effort that really spoke to–some of those people we didn’t reach in 2016–I know how to win Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois and Kansas because we did it this year in the governor’s races. And I think that kind of message I represent is the one that allowed me to succeed when I started my political career in about a 63 percent Republican district and agricultural community in a town of 3000 where I learned to win because I spoke to people about where they live, about their need for jobs in this clean energy jobs message is fundamentally a job creation message. And I believe that in 2007 when I co-authored this book which is about how you create clean energy jobs. So I feel very good about the contrast and the prospects of winning this. And I think we’re gonna be a united party and I like to carry that flag.
Pfeiffer [00:38:11] Governor Inslee thank you for joining us on Pod Save America.
Inslee [00:38:14] Thanks keep talking.