On the biggest stage of his political career Wednesday night, Gov.
More than half of the first Democratic primary debate in
And even on other topics, from guns to health care to immigration, Inslee was largely sidelined as moderators returned again and again to better-known candidates, including
Inslee, positioned near the right end of the stage, repeatedly raised his hand and pointed his index finger to try to get called on, only to be passed over.
Going into the debate, Inslee estimated he would get eight minutes of speaking time. He got about five. That was the least of any candidate, according to The New York Times.
Inslee did have moments where he seemed to connect. Asked near the end of the debate to name the biggest geopolitical threat to
Several other candidates, including O'Rourke, Booker and Warren, mentioned climate change as the biggest threat.
Inslee was the ninth candidate called on in the debate, for a question on how he would address income inequality. He got applause for saying he has a plan to empower unions, "the people who brought us the weekend." Support for good-paying union jobs has been woven into Inslee's climate platform, which is essentially his version of a Green New Deal.
On a question about health care Inslee tried to differentiate himself as the only candidate "who has actually advanced the ball" on issues including a public health-insurance option and protections for women's abortion rights.
As the debate wore on, Inslee advisers vented frustration with how little time was devoted to climate change.
"Jesus, finally," tweeted his official communications director,
Yes, Inslee responded, pledging to end the
Inslee boasted of his record as governor, pointing to legislation passed this year that puts
"I am the candidate, the only one, who's said this has to be the top priority of
"I guess we're officially done with the #ClimateDebate portion of the evening? I think I missed it when I accidentally blinked," Smith wrote as the climate segment ended.
"Really all of them did quite well," said attendee
Inslee qualified for the
But he'll have to do better to reach the third and fourth debates this fall. The
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