President Donald Trump on Monday argued with one California official about climate change’s role in the wildfires raging in the West as he visited the Sacramento area, though Trump and the state’s Democratic governor also talked up their working relationship.
Wade Crowfoot, California’s secretary for natural resources, told the president during a briefing on the fires that state officials “want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests,” spurring Trump to say: “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.”
Crowfoot said he wished science agreed with that view, and Trump then said he doesn’t think “science knows actually.”
The fires were key parts of both Trump’s and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s days, with Biden delivering a speech in Delaware on the wildfires in which he attacked Trump, saying four more years of his “climate denial” could mean more burned suburbs.
At least 33 people had been declared dead as of late Sunday as nearly 100 wildfires blazed in the West over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported. More than 3.3 million acres have burned in California so far this year, and, since mid-August, 4,000 structures have been destroyed, the Journal reported, citing Cal Fire.
The Democratic governors of California, Oregon and Washington say the fires are a consequence of climate change, while the Trump administration has blamed poor forest management for the flames that have raced through the region and made the air in places like Portland, Oregon, Seattle and San Francisco some of the worst in the world.
Trump on Monday said he and California Gov. Gavin Newsom “come from different sides of the planet, but we actually have a good relationship.” The president also took part in a ceremony honoring seven helicopter crew members from the California Army National Guard who rescued campers trapped by a massive fire, saying they “saved the lives of an astounding 242 people.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Sunday that more than 40,000 residents of her state had evacuated as dozens of fires have burned more than 1 million acres. “This is truly the bellwether for climate change on the West Coast, and this is a wake-up call for all of us,” she said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Trump later Monday was due to take part in a campaign event in the swing state of Arizona before flying back to Washington, D.C.
With 50 days to go before the Nov. 3 election, Biden has an edge of 3.7 percentage points over the Republican incumbent in a RealClearPolitics moving average of polls focused on top swing states that are likely to decide the White House race. Betting markets are giving the former vice president a 52.7% chance of winning vs. Trump’s 46.5%.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.