On the eve of the Fourth of July, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Washington Gov. Jay Inslee criticized President Donald Trump’s planned celebration for the national holiday, calling it a self-aggrandizing partisan event which misuses public funds.
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July Fourth is “a good moment of national unification,” Inslee told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks on the Powerhouse Politics podcast Wednesday, but added that Trump has turned it into a “matter of debate.”
The event is called “Salute to America” and will feature military plane flyovers, military tanks on display, fireworks and an address from Trump at the Lincoln Memorial.
“It should not be used as a personal aggrandizement. It’s something we should feel good about ourselves,” Inslee said of the holiday.
Inslee said that he believes the event is an outgrowth of Trump’s personal insecurity.
“This whole event is a monument to his insecurity,” Inslee said. “And I think it’s very unfortunate that a nation that prides itself on democracy and unifying messages has to be exposed to his insecurity that he’s trying to cover up with tanks, and it just doesn’t work.”
The costs of the event have also raised eyebrows as it has been reported that the National Park Service will divert $2.5 million in entrance fees that were meant for maintenance costs to the event. Inslee said this is an inappropriate use of taxpayer money.
“It’s disappointing to me that he’s actually taken money out of the parks budget as well,” Inslee said on “Powerhouse Politics” Wednesday. “I know that our maintenance budget has been hammered in our national parks. They’re starving for funds and to take another couple million dollars out of their fund. We should be going to our national parks. To go to a monument to Trump’s insecurity is sad.”
Inslee also said that his concern is not limited to who shoulders the cost of the event, but that the event itself should not take place given its political nature.
“I don’t think it should be happening no matter who pays for it,” he said. “We just should not turn this into a partisan affair for one candidate.”
Turning to the issue of immigration, which was spotlighted at the first Democratic presidential debate in June, Inslee said he would meet or exceed the number of refugee resettlements to the United States that was seen under the Obama administration.
“I would start by going back to our historic levels that were at that 100,000 plus. And there’s no reason as the refugee crisis internationally increases that the United States commitment should decrease,” Inslee said.
“Our numbers are something like one-fifth to one-tenth per capita of other European nations in the developing world. And I do not believe we are any less caring people than the people in Germany,” he added. “We are no less a compassionate people or a caring people or a wise people that understands we’re connected to the rest of the world than we were five years ago.”
The signature issue of Inslee’s campaign is combating climate change, and when asked whether ongoing projects based on fossil fuels would end under his leadership, Inslee said he would call for an assessment and cited that jobs in the fossil fuel industry are on the decline while clean energy jobs are expanding.
“I’m calling for a climate assessment that when we look at large fossil fuel infrastructure projects — if they’re inconsistent with the science — we simply do not permit them going forward,” Inslee said. “There’s many, many, many, more people working in the clean energy industry than in the coal mines today, and the coal jobs are going away no matter what because coal is now too expensive.”
Inslee has criticized the Democratic National Convention for not giving due attention to the issue within the debates and went as far as to call for an entire debate dedicated to discussing climate change — a proposal which the DNC first turned down but will re-consider in August.
To qualify for the debate in September, candidates need to demonstrate that they have 130,000 individual donors. Inslee said that his campaign is currently “approaching 90,000” donors and that they had “a surge since the last debate both in numbers and in an amount of contributions.”
Inslee attributes his increase in donors and contributions to his unique focus on climate change.
“We’ve had a surge of interest because of this climate change message,” Inslee said. “I am the only candidate who has said that I will make defeating climate crisis the top priority in the United States.”
Powerhouse Politics podcast is a weekly program that posts every Wednesday, and includes headliner interviews and in-depth looks at the people and events shaping U.S. politics. Powerhouse Politics podcast is hosted by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.