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Inslee pressed on serious answers to big questions

Democratic presidential candidate and Governor of Washington Jay Inslee. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A few things could be learned about Washington State Governor Jay Inslee from when the New York Times interviewed the range of Democratic presidential candidates.

For example, Inslee’s comfort food used to be M&Ms, but he’s avoiding them to “maintain belt security.” He likes to ride his bike to relax. And he must not get embarrassed very often, because the last time he was is when “I missed a hook shot with 3 seconds to go against Ballard High School causing us to lose the game.”

A byproduct of the interview could be that the Jay Inslee who Washingtonians know so well was introduced to the broader American public, who may not be as familiar with his penchant for Inslee-isms — the sometimes corny statements that sound like they were focus group tested. This is the Jay Inslee who, when asked how many hours of sleep he gets every night, answers with: “Just enough to be able to have dreams at nighttime, and vision statements in the daytime. And I’ve got some!”

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When pressed more specifically on who his political hero is (besides his wife and parents), Inslee said: “The American voter, who I think is going to help us restore democracy this year …”

But beyond the usual Inslee-isms Washington has become accustomed to, The New York Times was able to pull out a few serious, less-corny answers. At times, interviewers would not let him off the hook when it seemed like he dodged a question. Here are a few highlights from the 18-question interview. See the full reporting and video from the New York Times project here.

Jay Inslee answers

In an ideal world, would anyone own handguns?

Well, I think that in a world that I can foresee, that law enforcement personnel, that are trained and are protecting us, certainly are going to be needed and I do believe that there is some right, privately, for firearms. But I have been a person who cast one of the pivotal votes to pass the Assault Weapon Bill in 1994. I lost my seat, in part, because of that, but I have never regretted that vote because it was the right vote. And now I can tell you we’ve got the NRA on the run in Washington state. We passed through the strongest gun safety laws in the United States and we have more to do. So I’m committed to common sense gun safety …

Do you think illegal immigration is a major problem in the US?

I believe that our nation is founded on immigration. We respect and value diversity. I’m proud to have been the first governor to stand up against the Muslim ban. But yes, we have to have some degree of immigration in a way that is lawful and we should do that. And we should protect the dreamers, as I have done …

Interviewer: I can’t totally tell if that was a yes or no on whether illegal immigration is a major problem.

Listen, we want to have a legal system, we want to embrace refugees, like I have done in saying we should have Syrian refugees. I want to help the dreamers. We want to encourage new streams of talent into America. But yes, we have some laws and we’re not going to allow illegality. We just need to follow the law, including allowing people to have asylum who deserve it and we need a rational way to do that.

Do you think President Trump has committed crimes in office?

I think it is likely that Donald Trump has committed crimes in office and that’s why I believe impeachment must remain on the table and it is edging closer to the plate right now. And I’m proud that the Democratic Party is insisting to get to the bottom of this, and the truth, because we have to maintain democracy and its fundamentals and I’m glad that we have a party that’s committed to that right now in the US Congress.

Should tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Google be broken up?

I believe that we have to enforce antitrust laws. I believe that we have to regulate privacy. We’ve come very close to passing the best privacy laws in United States so that those tech giants do not violate our privacy, and do not violate consumer laws. Whether they are broken up depends on the specifics of the anti trust law as it applies to them individually. I’ve been very aggressive to making sure consumers are protected. I continue to do that.

Does anyone deserve to have a billion dollars?

You know, there’s a there’s a line from one of my favorite movies, Unforgiven, (with) Clint Eastwood, where he said ‘deserve’s got nothing to do with it.’ The question is how do we really have an economy that works for everyone. And 50 percent of Americans have not had a raise. When I’m president of the United States, we’re going to have a jobs program that I just rolled out for eight million family-wage jobs. That’s what America needs.

Interviewer: Was that a yes or a no?

I don’t know how to call it ‘deserve.’ Deserve is in the eye of the beholder. What we need is an economy that grows wages for those in the bottom half who haven’t had a wage increase in the last 20 years, that’s what I want to focus on.

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