© 2021 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

U.S. Governors Meet With President Trump In Washington


Governors from around the country are here in Washington for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. On today's agenda - a visit to the White House and a meeting with President Trump.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're also going to do whatever we can to restore the authority of the states when that is the appropriate thing to do. We're going to give you back a lot of the powers that have been taken away from states and great people and great governors.

SHAPIRO: The audience included Republicans and Democrats. Joining us now in the studio is the governor of Washington state. Jay Inslee is a Democrat who has opposed many of the president's early moves. Welcome to the program.

JAY INSLEE: Thanks for having me.

SHAPIRO: First, what stood out to you from the White House meeting today?

INSLEE: Several things. Number one, I was kind of shocked when the president said, who knew that health care would be complicated? And the fact that now they still really have not been able to present any assurance to us that in fact whatever they want to replace Obamacare will assure and guarantee and give confidence that people will not lose their insurance was very disturbing. And I don't find that acceptable in my state given the consequences of this to people's health.

SHAPIRO: When you look across the United States, there are 25 states where Republicans control the legislature - both houses - and the governor's office. For Democrats, the number is six. What's it going to take for your party to regain some of this ground on a state-by-state level?

INSLEE: Well, one of the things we have to do is win more governors' races, and there are 38 governor races up between now and in 2018. And the reason that's so important is that governors are pivotal in the districting process. Now, we have to understand what's gone on in the last 15 years is that the Republicans have - in undemocratic fashion - have gerrymandered both congressional and state legislative districts beyond the pale.

SHAPIRO: You're saying they're redrawing the lines of the district...

INSLEE: They've redrawn the lines.

SHAPIRO: ...So they don't accurately reflect the population.

INSLEE: So in the vast - in the majority of the districts today, voters don't get to pick who their congressman is. The congressmen get to pick who the congressman is.

SHAPIRO: And the only way Democrats can redraw those lines is by winning the governor's office.

INSLEE: That's correct.

SHAPIRO: And so how do you do that?

INSLEE: We have a very vigorous effort. And we're working diligently to make sure we have an economic jobs message which is going to resonate in every single state. To talk about - all of the issues that we talk about - you're going to hear us talk about how they revolve around economic growth.

SHAPIRO: There has been so much energy behind marches in the streets, people going to town hall meetings and challenging lawmakers. How do you actually translate that energy from activism to impact?

INSLEE: We understand we have to focus on resources, on local elections from the grassroots up. So let me give you an example. This fall, we will have - the entire legislature will hinge on one seat. It's a special election - the 45th district in Issaquah, Wash.

SHAPIRO: This is the state legislature in your home state, Washington.

INSLEE: State legislature - we had 180,000 people, most of whom were wearing pink hats and pink scarves, marching three weeks ago in opposition to the unconstitutional - what I would believe are damaging to the core values of America by Donald Trump. I can guarantee you that a significant portion of those people are going to be marching in the streets of Issaquah, pounding on doors, calling people and exercising their freedom of speech here. And doing that's going to happen.

SHAPIRO: Is that an obvious translation, though, from marching in the streets to actually knocking on doors...


SHAPIRO: ...And voting in an off-year race?

INSLEE: Yes, and I'll tell you why. The best evidence of this is just Saturday in Delaware, where we had the first special election since the Trump election. The voting went up a factor of about a hundred percent the turnout in an off-year election. A Republican who'd run before who only lost by 2 percent lost by 16 percent.

I've never seen such an emotional outpouring as there has been about the effort that where we succeeded in reining President Trump in when he kept people with this Muslim band out of our country. These people are responding emotionally to that because they understand America is a very unique place. They understand it has basic core values, and they understand they are threatened by this presidency.

SHAPIRO: Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state, thanks for joining us.

INSLEE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.