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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with reporters at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10 in Des Moines. Photo: ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that he is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race.

Why it matters: Inslee was a longshot for the Democratic nomination, but his focus on climate change has helped elevate the issue to a degree unseen in prior cycles. He was the driving force behind what’s now a wider — though still unsuccessful — campaign for the Democratic National Committee to hold a debate on the topic. Inslee hit the donor threshold to qualify for September's Democratic debates, but did not meet the minimum polling requirements.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
It's become clear that I'm not going to be carrying the ball, I'm not going to be the president so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race.

Details: Inslee told Maddow he would not endorse any particular candidate and that he would support whomever the Democratic presidential candidate is.

What's next? Inslee would not be drawn on his future plans, telling Maddow he would make an announcement Thursday. AP reports that he will announce in an email to supporters Thursday that he will seek a third term as governor, citing 2 people close him.

The big picture: Inslee is the third Democrat to end his presidential bid after Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.) and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

  • Inslee quit ahead of CNN's climate change town hall in September. He said during an interview with Vox on Tuesday he thinks his team has "raised the bar and driven the other candidates to be more ambitious" on the issue of climate change.
"We forced the debate onto the stage; it wasn’t there when we started. So now you have the Democratic Party at least having a vote on whether they’re going to have a [climate] debate, and you have two major networks fostering debate. I don’t see evidence that that would have happened without us."
— Inslee interview with Vox

What they're saying: Several Democratic presidential candidates tweeted tributes to Inslee's achievement in making climate change a key focus of the race, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.