The Washingtonian made combating climate change the fundamental issue motivating his campaign, routinely telling reporters that the climate crisis affects “every issue” facing the country. With that in mind, he released a series of plans that tied the issue to everything from foreign policy to the economy to labor laws.
In an email to supporters outlining his exit Wednesday, he touted the increase in climate-based policy proposals from other Democratic candidates as rooted in his campaign’s “gold standard.”
“Many of the campaigns started with little attention to climate, but since our campaign began, we’ve seen almost every serious candidate put out a climate plan; we’ve seen climate come up in both debates; and we now have two networks hosting nationally-televised climate forums in September,” he said. “Most importantly, we have introduced a detailed and comprehensive policy blueprint for bold climate action and transformation to a clean energy economy. We will fight to ensure this gold standard of climate action is adopted and executed by our party and our next president.”
Assessing the other Democratic candidates Wednesday night, Inslee said that “every single one of them is 100% better than the current occupant, no question about that.”
“I’m not endorsing a candidate tonight. I think a number of them have intriguing ideas, but we need all of them to raise their game,” he added.
Inslee was scheduled to be in New Hampshire on Thursday for a presidential candidate forum at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
The governor will now return to Washington state, where he is in his second term. Inslee won reelection in 2016 by nearly 10 percentage points and is eligible to run for reelection in 2020. He said during his interview on MSNBC that he will make an announcement on Thursday about his plans.
Democratic candidates are often asked about the climate crisis, a signal that the issue is top of mind for active Democratic voters. And a CNN poll earlier this year found that 82% of Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents find climate change a “very important” issue, ranking it at the top of the list ahead of universal health care, tighter gun laws and impeaching Trump.
“We’ve done something else, I think: We’ve given people hope,” Inslee said Wednesday. “The grassroots has responded to this message.”
“I don’t think there’s any question that we have had success moving the needle,” he said. “And so I think this is a positive experience.”
This story has been updated.