Inslee closes in on presidential run to fight climate change

VIDEO: Gov. Inslee closing in on decision to run for President

SEATTLE — If Washington Gov. Jay Inslee runs for president, he says climate change will be his signature issue. But the nation will be looking to see if he can first be successful on that issue here at home.

Inslee has already campaigned for Democratic candidates in Iowa, the first presidential caucus state, and in New Hampshire the first primary state --

So, will he soon return to those key states to run for president?

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“Don't know, thinking about it, listening to people.” Asked if he truly doesn’t know he responded, “The thing I know today is we have to put forward a candidate that will make defeating climate change a paramount duty of the next president. And they need to do that first and foremost.”

To bolster his case nationally, Inslee will need to win climate victories that have been so far elusive in Olympia.

This year’s proposals include the phaseout of coal-fired electricity, and a clean fuel standard that would lower emissions -- but at a price of roughly 6 cents a gallon to start.

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He believes having 10 additional Democratic lawmakers this year makes it possible to pass the legislation.

“This is a big swing in our state legislature and every single one of these legislators had a position that we need to do something about climate change.”

Inslee believes wildfires and the smoke they generated this past summer are helping to change attitudes among voters wary of the cost of fighting climate change.

“This is something we are living. This is no longer an abstraction. It is a current threat, not just to our grandchildren, not just to our children but to us today. And that's what's changed,” he said.

Inslee's counting on climate change to lift him out of what's expected to be a large pack of Democratic candidates.

“People, I do believe, are ready. There is actually a poll in the primary state of Iowa saying this is the second-most important thing people are looking for in a candidate, because people have had a great awakening about the perils of this and the promise of clean energy.”

A Political Action Committee to pay for Inslee's research and travel expenses has raised $112,000 according to the latest report.

The governor didn't put a timetable on his decision but was clear it could come before the end of the legislative session in April.