5 min read

Wake Up To Politics - August 22, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, August 22, 2019. 165 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 439 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee drops out of presidential race

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), who made climate change the central issue of his long-shot presidential bid, pulled out of the 2020 race for the White House on Wednesday.

"It's become clear I'm not going to be carrying the ball. I'm not going to be president, so I'm withdrawing tonight from the race," he announced in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "But I have to tell you, I've been fighting climate change for 25 years, and I've never been so confident of the ability of America now to reach critical mass to move the ball."

Inslee withdrew from the race just hours after releasing the sixth and final installment of his detailed policy plan to address climate change; his previous proposals aimed to make the United States a 100% clean energy economy by 2030, including an end to the use of coal. Although he gained plaudits for his climate change proposals, he remained mired at 1% or lower in the polls. Inslee did reach the 130,000-donor threshold this week needed to qualify for the September presidential debate but was still three surveys away from reaching the polling requirement that would have ensured his invitation. He also sustained a blow after failing to qualify for a CNN forum on climate change, after spending much of the race calling for the DNC to sponsor a climate-focused debate.

According to the Associated Press, Inslee will announce in an email to supporters today that he will instead seek a third term as Washington's governor in 2020. Inslee is the third major Democratic presidential candidate to exit the race, after California Rep. Eric Swalwell and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. There are now 22 candidates vying for the opportunity to take on President Donald Trump next November.

More 2020 news...

  • Hickenlooper, who ended his presidential bid exactly one week ago, announced in a video message this morning that he will instead mount a challenge against Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). "I've always said Washington was a lousy place for a guy like me who wants to get things done," Hickenlooper said in the video, acknowledging his past comments dismissing pressure that he should run for Senate. "But this is no time to walk away from the table." He joins a crowded Democratic primary of contenders seeking to take on Gardner, one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the Senate, but the former two-term governor joins the field as an automatic frontrunner.
  • Former Tea Party congressman Joe Walsh (R-IL) is expected to announce as early as this weekend that he is mounting a Republican primary challenge against President Trump, The New York Times reports. Walsh, a onetime Trump supporter who has since become a frequent critic of the president's, wrote an op-ed last week calling for a conservative to challenge Trump in the GOP primary from the right. After entreaties from conservative writer Bill Kristol, it appears Walsh will answer his own call. He would join Trump and former Gov. Bill Weld (R-MA) in the primary field; neither Walsh nor Weld pose a serious threat to Trump's chances of once again capturing the Republican nomination, although "some Trump advisers are more concerned about a primary challenge than they publicly let on," according to the Times.
  • Recommended read: "The Surprising Surge of Andrew Yang" (Politico Magazine)

Top quotes: Trump's 35-minute press gaggle

President Trump continued to provoke controversy on Wednesday, sounding off on a range of issues and making at least 11 false claims in an impromptu 35-minute gaggle with reporters before boarding Marine One. Here are some of the top quotes:

  • Trump criticized Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen for calling his interest in buying Greenland "absurd," one day after canceling a planned visit to Denmark over the slight. "I thought the prime minister's statement that it was an 'absurd' idea was nasty, I thought it was an inappropriate statement," the president said, invoking a term he has often used to insult women.
  • Trump doubled down on accusing Jewish voters who support Democrats of disloyalty. "In my opinion, you vote for Democrats, you're being very disloyal to Jewish people, and you are being very disloyal to Israel," he said. (71% of Jewish voters cast ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to exit polls.) Despite criticism from Jewish leaders that the comments echoed anti-Semitic tropes about "dual loyalty," the president maintained that "it's only anti-Semitic in your head."
  • Trump once again said that he is "seriously" considering ending birthright citizenship, the process by which any baby born in the United States becomes a citizen, by executive order. Such a move would spark an immediate court challenge, on the grounds that it violates the 14th Amendment's promise of citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States."
  • Finally, the president also defended his policy on trade by asserting "I am the chosen one" to take on China, turning to look at the sky as he made the claim. (Later on Wednesday, Trump also said that he has attempted to award himself the Medal of Honor, but aides have talked him out of it. Earlier in the day, Trump quoted a radio host on Twitter who likened him to the "King of Israel" and "the second coming of God.")

Related: An interesting set of passages in The New York Times as President Trump continues to spark provocative headlines on a number of fronts at once, distracting from the worsening economy and rising deficit...

"Some former Trump administration officials in recent days said they were increasingly worried about the president’s behavior, suggesting it stems from rising pressure on Mr. Trump as the economy seems more worrisome and next year’s election approaches."

"After casting off advisers who displeased him at a record rate in his first two and a half years in office, Mr. Trump now has fewer aides around him willing or able to challenge him, much less restrain his more impulsive instincts."

"With a growing schedule of campaign rallies, he will be talking in public even more in the coming months, each time a chance to say something provocative that may distract from the messages his staff would prefer to emphasize."

Do you like Wake Up To Politics? Share it with your colleagues, friends, and family! Please forward this newsletter and tell them to subscribe at wakeuptopolitics.com.

Today at the White House

--- At 11:45 a.m., President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing. At 4:30 p.m., he presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired Boston Celtics point guard Bob Cousy. The award is the nation's highest civilian honor; Cousy, 91, is the tenth recipient since President Trump took office, five of whom have been professional athletes.

--- Vice President Mike Pence travels to Salt Lake City, Utah, today. At 12:05 p.m., he tours Merit Medical, a leading manufacturer of disposable medical devices. At 12:30 p.m., he delivers remarks on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USCMCA), President Trump's proposed replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Today on the trail

--- A number of Democratic presidential candidates travel to California today, as the Democratic National Committee (DNC) opens its three-day Summer Meeting in San Francisco. (13 contenders will address the meeting tomorrow.) At 10 p.m., Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will speak at a fundraising gala celebrating the DNC's IWillVote program.

--- Booker also holds a roundtable on gun violence prevention with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at 2 p.m. and headlines a fundraiser in San Francisco at 8:30 p.m.

--- Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) attends fundraisers in Los Angeles.

--- South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds a grassroots event in Portland, Maine, at 5 p.m.

--- Former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) participates in the Concord Coalition's 2020/Vision Candidate Forum at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire at 5 p.m., and the Stonyfield 2020 Presidential Forum in Londonderry, New Hampshire at 7 p.m.

--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) visits the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul.

--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) holds a roundtable on gun violence at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.

--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a town hall in Chico, California, at 3 p.m. and a rally in Sacramento at 9 p.m.

--- Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) speaks at caucus meetings on the sidelines of the DNC Summer Meeting.

*All times Eastern