Washington Governor Jay Inslee drops out of 2020 presidential race

/ CBS/AP

CBSN

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who made fighting climate change the central theme of his presidential campaign, announced Wednesday night that he is ending his bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Inslee announced his decision on MSNBC, saying it's become clear that he won't win. He has kept the option of running for a third term as governor open throughout his presidential campaign, but didn't immediately say what his political plans were.

"This is sort of the book ends of my campaign," Inslee said on MSNBC. "We started seeing that climate change had to be the number one job of the United States. I felt very good saying that the first days of my campaign. I feel very good saying that now. And the reason is this is has just become more urgent — a billion tons of ice melted in Greenland uh the other day. But we also have had so many people that I have met who are inspiring, who want us to act, who have helped me. We have had 130,000 people help me in this campaign."

"But it has become clear that I am not going to be carrying the ball, I am not going to be the president, so I'm withdrawing tonight from the race," he added.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during the first Democratic primary debate Miami, Florida, on June 26, 2019. Getty

Inslee, 68, became the third Democrat to end his presidential bid after U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California pulled out of the primary last month followed by former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper last week.

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While Inslee had qualified for the first two presidential debates this summer, he struggled to gain traction in the crowded Democratic field and was falling short of the requirements needed to appear on two high-profile stages next month: the third DNC debate in Houston and a CNN town hall focused on climate change, Inslee's key issue.

He had recently hit one of the markers — 130,000 unique donors. But he had yet to reach 2% in any poll and would have needed to hit that level of support in four qualifying polls.

This is a developing story. Please check back for latest updates.

First published on August 21, 2019 / 9:32 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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