What you need to know for Wednesday night:
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will be one of 10 candidates onstage Wednesday night in Detroit for the second night of the second round of Democratic presidential debates. Ten other Democrats debated Tuesday night.
- The two-and-a-half hour debate will begin at 5 p.m. Pacific time and will air on CNN and stream on CNN.com.
- Candidates will be arranged on the stage according to their polling averages. Just as in the first debate, last month in Miami, Inslee will stand on the viewer’s right side of the stage. He’ll be between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. The highest-polling candidates on Night Two — former Vice President Joe Biden and California’s U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris — will be center stage.
- This may be Inslee’s last shot at the massive platform and audience that these debates offer. The third round of debates, in Houston in September, will have more stringent requirements for qualification — thresholds that Inslee has not yet met. To qualify, candidates must poll at 2% or higher in four different polls and get donations from at least 130,000 people.
Update 7:55 p.m.
More time, but he needs more donors
While not called upon for significant stretches early in the debate, Inslee managed to make a bigger impact than in the first debate. He spoke for nearly 11 minutes, the fifth most of the 10 candidates on the stage. In the first debate he spoke for only five minutes.
Inslee, like most candidates, pitched his website in his closing statement. He needs to draw in more donors if he’s going to qualify for the next debate, in September. He needs to attract 130,000 individual donors, and was at only 85,000 at the end of June, his campaign said.
Update 7:45 p.m.
Inslee closes, stresses huge stakes of election
In his closing statement, Inslee made what could be his last, best pitch for support. And he didn’t minimize what he sees as the stakes.
“Under Donald Trump we face a looming catastrophe, but it is not too late, we have one last chance,” he said. “The survival of humanity on this planet and civilization as we know it is in the hands of the next president.”
Inslee, alone among the candidates, would make fighting climate change “the organizing principle of my administration, not the first day, but every day,” he said.
He promised to stand up to “powerful, special fossil-fuel interests.”
And he ended on a note of optimism, while asking voters (and potential donors) to visit his website.
“I know we can save our children and our grandchildren,” he said. “I know that we can defeat climate change and we will defeat Donald Trump. This is our moral responsibility and we will fulfill it.”
Update 7:25 p.m.
Inslee stresses judgment on foreign policy
In a section on foreign policy, Inslee stressed judgment rather than discussing specific issues.
“There is no sort of primer for presidents to read,” he said. “We have to determine whether a potential president has adequate judgment.”
He turned back to the Iraq war, noting that he’s one of two candidates on the stage who was in Congress for the vote to authorize the war. The other, who Inslee did not name, was Biden, then in the Senate, who voted for the war.
“I was a relatively new member of Congress and I made the right judgment,” Inslee said. “We need a president who can stand up against the drums of war and make rational decisions.”
Update 7:20 p.m.
Inslee touts McCleary solution
In a section of the debate on equal pay for women, Inslee spoke briefly, again pointing to Washington.
“In professions and careers where women have been more than the majority, they have been, almost always, underpaid,” he said. He pointed to the recent agreement on school funding, ending the long-running McCleary lawsuit, calling it the “largest pay increase for our educators in the United States.”
The deal has brought increases in teacher salaries, but has also left many school districts staring at budget shortfalls.
Update 6:45 p.m.
On climate, an Inslee-Biden back and forth
Ninety-five minutes into the debate, we arrive at the climate change section and Inslee leads off, making his fundamental pitch about the urgency of climate change.
“We have to act now, climate change is not a singular issue, it is all the issues that we Democrats care about,” he said. “It is health, it is national security, it is our economy.”
He talked about visiting a Detroit neighborhood near an oil refinery, where there are elevated levels of asthma and cancer.
“It doesn’t matter what your color is, you ought to have clean air and clean water in America,” Inslee said.
Then he criticized Biden for “middle ground solutions” and “average-sized things” that, he said, don’t match the scale of the climate crisis.
Biden shot back, touting the specifics of his climate plan and his role in negotiating the Paris Climate Treaty, which President Trump has since withdrawn from.
“Your plan is just too late,” Inslee responded, saying that we need to end the use of coal in 10 years.
Biden again responded, promising to double offshore wind energy production and end all subsidies for fossil fuels.
“The time is up,” an angry Inslee rebutted. “Our house is on fire.”
Update 6:39 p.m.
Inslee calls for killing the filibuster
Asked how he would help heal the country’s racist divide, Inslee said he approaches the question with humility.
He’s never been a black teenager, pulled over by police, he said, or a woman talked over at a meeting, or a LGBTQ person subjected to a slur.
Then he pivoted to chiding his opponents, specifically the four senators on the stage, for “an enormous error which is going to prevent our party from making any progressive progress.”
Even if Democrats win back control of the Senate, Inslee said, they won’t make progress unless they get rid of the filibuster.
“Mitch McConnell is going to run the Senate even if we get a majority,” Inslee said.
Update 6:25 p.m.
Inslee again points to Washington record
In a section on criminal justice reform, Inslee once again pointed to Washington state.
He touted his pardons of people who were convicted of marijuana crimes before legalization (he issued 13 pardons in the first month of the policy) and the law passed this year that allows people to have marijuana convictions wiped from their record.
“We’ve eliminated the death penalty,” Inslee said, a claim that’s technically true, but not due to any legislative accomplishment. Inslee administratively halted executions in the state five years ago and the state Supreme Court ruled last year that capital punishment is unconstitutional, but efforts to repeal the state’s death penalty law have foundered.
Inslee also touted Washington policies to “ban the box,” prohibiting employers from early inquiries about a job applicant’s criminal history, and to train police officers in de-escalation techniques.
Update 6:05 p.m.
‘A white nationalist in the White House’
Again, Inslee was drawn in late to a policy debate and, again, he drew applause.
On immigration, speaking after most of his fellow candidates, Inslee said that the debate so far had been missing two “central statements.”
“We can no longer allow a white nationalist to be in the White House,” he said, to big cheers. “And number two, we have to make America what it’s always been, a place of refuge.”
He bragged about being the “first governor” to ask for Syrian refugees to be sent to his state and touted Washington’s role in suing the administration over Trump’s “Muslim ban” and other immigration policies.
Update 5:50 p.m.
Inslee late to health care debate, touts new Washington laws
Inslee is mostly left out of a nearly 20-minute long health-care debate focused on California Sen. Kamala Harris’ plan to move, slowly, toward a Medicare for All-type plan. Inslee was the ninth candidate (out of 10) asked about health care, and moderator Jake Tapper asked about Washington state’s recently-passed public option, moving on from the meat of the prior debate.
Inslee said he was proud of the public option bill Washington passed this spring, intended to modestly lower health-care costs, while also touting a new law funding home health care for the elderly in Washington.
Inslee drew applause for stressing mental health, saying “it is time to give people adequate mental health care in this country.”
Update 5:22 p.m.
Inslee opening statement: All climate
In his opening statement Inslee honed in on his campaign’s central theme, fighting climate change. He introduced himself and said that he’s running for president because “the people in this room and the Democrats watching tonight are the last, best hope for humanity on this planet.”
Speaking third among the 10 candidates, he said that climate change must be the nation’s top priority and touted his plan to transform the United States to “100 percent clean energy,” and create 8 million jobs in the process.
He promised to confront the fossil fuel industry and said that he’s been working on the climate issue for 25 years.
“Whether we shrink from this challenge or rise to it is the vital question of our time,” Inslee said, going about 15 seconds over his allotted one minute. “Let’s get to work.”
Update 4:22 p.m.
Inslee Super PAC ad criticizes Democratic rivals
The Super PAC backing Inslee is airing TV ads in a last-ditch effort to boost his poll numbers.
Act Now On Climate’s ad hits other Democratic candidates — although not terribly harshly — for failing to prioritize climate change the way Inslee has.
“When your house is on fire, it’s obvious what’s your top priority. When the world’s on fire, there shouldn’t be any question either,” the ad’s narrator says over video of raging forest fires.
“But Democrats aren’t making climate change the number one issue,” the ad continues, flashing pictures of front-runner candidates in the race, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.
Only Inslee, the narrator says, “has the record and plan to fix it.”
The 30-second spot is airing on CNN in Iowa during the Democratic debate, according to Christy Setzer, a spokeswoman for the Super PAC. It also will air in that state over the next week. She described the buy as “six figures.”
Inslee is the only Democratic candidate who has blessed a Super PAC to aid his candidacy. By law, such groups, which can raise unlimited money, are independent and cannot coordinate with a candidate’s campaign.
Act Now has not yet disclosed its donors, but a semiannual report to the Federal Election Commission, which will reveal that information, is due by midnight Wednesday.
Update 2 p.m.
Inslee’s climate plan ‘The best of all the candidates’
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal praised Inslee’s emphasis on climate change, but questioned whether his campaign will enjoy the spotlight of another debate after Wednesday night.
Jayapal, D-Seattle, said that Inslee’s focus on the climate was “very necessary.”
“His climate plan, I think, is the best of all the candidates out there,” Jayapal said in a Wednesday morning briefing with Seattle media. “This is a tough field for him to compete in, for many people — and I don’t know if this is him or not — this might be the last debate.”
Inslee needs to crack 2% — a benchmark he hasn’t yet reached — in four different polls to qualify for the next debate, in September.
Jayapal, a leader of the House’s progressive caucus, has not yet endorsed a presidential candidate. A staunch booster of Medicare for All, the proposed health-care overhaul that dominated Tuesday night’s debate, she said she’s looking for “bold solutions” because “we’re not in a time of incrementalism.”
She bluntly called President Donald Trump “racist” and said his administration is “unaccountable and lawless.” Jayapal argued that the House Judiciary Committee, which she sits on, has already begun an impeachment inquiry, citing a court filing from the committee seeking grand jury materials that says “the Judiciary Committee is investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment.”
“At the end of the day, we need somebody who will inspire, we need somebody who has trust and who people see as having integrity,” Jayapal said, “somebody who is unwilling to allow Donald Trump to destroy our country.”
Update 1:45 p.m.
Inslee ‘mad as hell’ at lack of early climate questions
Gov. Jay Inslee and his political advisers vented frustration while watching Tuesday night’s CNN debate in Detroit, where moderators didn’t bring up climate change until more than an hour had passed.
In a tweet, Inslee pronounced himself “mad as hell” and vowed it “won’t happen tomorrow, I guarantee it.”
His campaign spokesman, Jamal Raad, called out Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez after 75 minutes passed by.
The liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America calculated that climate got more discussion than in the first round of debates last month. About 11 percent of moderator questions were about climate, and eight of 10 candidates onstage were asked about this issue, with the other two asked about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Inslee will have a chance to elevate climate change early on when he takes the stage Wednesday night. During the Miami debate last month, Inslee struggled to even get a word in. But this time, candidates all get an opening statement. Don’t be surprised if Inslee takes his rivals and maybe CNN to task over failing to prioritize an issue of global importance.
Inslee has continued to push the DNC to host a climate debate, but Perez has refused. Some DNC members are pushing to reverse that decision. Meanwhile, both CNN and MSNBC have announced they’ll host climate town halls in September.