California Governor Gavin Newsom will meet privately with Donald Trump during the president’s West Coast campaign swing for a briefing on the still-raging wildfires that have scorched more than 3 million acres in the state.
The president is scheduled to deliver remarks to the California National Guard, but first he will meet with the governor and emergency response officials for a briefing, according to reports.
After the briefing, Governor Newsom will tour wildfire damage in the state.
The president’s visit follows several public statements falsely accusing the state’s fire and parks management for the fires and claims that California’s “extreme agenda” has forced rolling power outages.
That’s not the case. Electrical demand from heat weaves has put immense pressure on the state’s grid, and the climate crisis has accelerated dry conditions and droughts that have made areas vulnerable to fires.
On the day before his visit, the president told supporters in Nevada that poor “forest management” has caused the devastation that has ripped through California, Oregon and Washington, killing at least 35 people and displacing thousands others, with apocalyptic orange skies trapping smoke and polluting air for millions of residents.
The president also told supporters on Saturday during a rally in Minden, Nevada that “it’s about forest management” – he was roundly condemned for comments last month suggesting that poor "raking" or “cleaning” forest floors caused the fires.
He made similar claims in 2018, when he last visited California for a wildfire-related trip, writing on Twitter that “there is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.”
Even if that were the case, the federal government would be responsible for the devastation, as The New York Times reported. State agencies manage up to 3 per cent of the state’s 22 million acres of forestry, while federal agencies own and manage 57 per cent.
The president also called Governor Newsom a “child” who doesn’t “know what he’s doing” as wildfires raged in the state last year.
Governor Newsom called the crisis a “climate damn emergency” and condemned "ideological BS” plaguing the debate.
“Just come to the state of California, observe it with your own eyes,” he said on 11 September.
The West Coast’s other Democratic governors and officials have also pushed back against the president’s false claims echoed by allies.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee called the crisis a “a blowtorch over our states" in an interview with ABC on Sunday.
“It is maddening right now that when we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, with the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president to deny that these are not just wildfires, these are climate fires,” he said.
Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley called the president’s statement a “big and devastating lie” as the emergency rips through his state and forced at least 500,000 people to evacuate.
“The Cascade snowpacks have gotten smaller,” he told ABC. “Our forests have gotten drier. Our ocean has gotten warmer and more acidic. And this has been happening steadily over the last several decades.”
Following his remarks from McClellan Park, the president will depart for Phoenix, Arizona for another Latinos For Trump roundtable before returning to the White House.