Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is a member of the 1% — the Democratic candidates who have polled 1%, that is. But during his time on the national stage Wednesday night in Miami, he got in a few punches — and about 6 minutes of time (5 minutes and 34 seconds or so, to be a little more precise).
Here’s what he said to stand out from the chaotic cacophony of the first Democratic candidates debate. Approximate statement durations are in parentheses.
Shoutout to unions
On income inequality:
“Well I’m a little bit surprised, I think plans are great but I’m a governor. And we’ve got to realize that the people who brought us the weekend, the unions, they are going to bring us a long-overdue raise in America. And I’m proud of standing up for unions. I’ve got a plan to reinvigorate collective bargaining so we can increase wages finally. I’ve marched with the SEIU folks. It is not right that the CEO of McDonald’s makes 2,100 times more than the people slinging hash at McDonald’s. And the next thing I’ll do is put people to work in the jobs of the present and the future. Lookit, Donald Trump is simply wrong. He says wind turbines cause cancer. We know they cause jobs. And we know that we can put millions of people to work in the clean-energy jobs of the future. Carpenters, IBEW members, Machinists, we’re doing it in my state today. And then we can do what America always does: Lead the world and invent the future and put people to work. That’s what we’re going to do.” (1:02)
During the health-care scrum:
“It’s wrong in the United States of America for any insurance company to deny women coverage for their exercise of their right of choice. Well I am the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman’s right of reproductive health and health insurance, and I’m the only candidate who has passed a public option. I respect everybody’s goals and plans here. But we do have one candidate that’s actually advanced the ball. And we’ve got to have access for everyone …” [unintelligible as moderators interrupt] (0:35)
“What will you do with the families that will be here?”
“There is no reason for the detention and separation of these children. They should be released, pending their hearings, and they should have a hearing and the law should be followed. That’s what should happen. And we should do what we’re doing in Washington state. I’m proud that we’ve passed a law that prevents local law enforcement from being turned into mini ICE agents. I’m proud to have been the first governor to stand up against Donald Trump’s heinous Muslim ban. I’m proud to be a person who’s not only talked about Dreamers, but being one of the first to make sure that they can get a college education, so that they can realize their dreams. These are some of the most inspirational people in our state. And I’ll leave you with this thought, if you want to know what I think. Donald Trump the other day tried to threaten me. He thought it was a threat to tell me he would send refugees to Washington state if we passed law that I passed. And I told him that that’s not a threat at all. We welcome refugees into our state, we recognize diversity as a strength. This is how we built America. That tradition is going to continue if I’m president of the United States.” (1:12)
Inslee was visibly frustrated that he wasn’t getting a word in edgewise, but MSNBC host Rachel Maddow came to his aid: “Governor, you’re going to be happy with where we go next …” She asked about his obsession, climate change, citing Miami’s vulnerability. “Does your plan save Miami?” Maddow asked.
“Yes, first by taking away the filibuster from Mitch McConnell to start with. We have to do that. We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we’re the last that can do something about it. Our towns are burning, our fields are flooding, Miami is inundated. And we have to understand this is a climate crisis. [Audio dropped momentarily] … our last chance in the administration, the next one, to do something about it. And we need to do what I’ve one in my state. We passed a 100% clean electrical grid bill. We now have a vision statement, and my plan has been called the gold standard of putting people to work. But the most important thing on this, and the biggest decision for the American public is, who’s going to make this the first priority? And I am the candidate, and I am the only one who’s saying this has to be the top priority of the United States. It’s the organizing principle to mobilize the United States. So that we can do what we’ve always done: Lead the world and invent the future and put 8 million people to work.” (1:45)
In a lightning round, the candidates were asked to name the biggest geopolitical threat to U.S. security. Pundits on MSNBC and CNN later called this possibly the best-received line of the night.
“The biggest threat to the security of the United States is Donald Trump.” (0:05)
[Unintelligible] “… children and we love them all, and when I was deciding whether to run for president, I made a decision. I decided that on my last day on Earth, I wanted to look them in the eye and tell them I did everything humanly possible to protect them from the ravages of the climate crisis. And I know to a moral certainty, if we do not have the next president who commits to this as the top priority it won’t get done. And I am the only candidate — frankly, I’m surprised — I am the only candidate who’s made this commitment to make it the top priority. If you join me in that recognition of how important this is, we can have a unified national mission. We can save ourselves. We can save our children. We can save our grandchildren. And we can save life on this planet. This is our moment.” (0:55)