President Trump was in California today following a week of campaigning in Nevada, making his first in-person trip to his least favorite state in a year. He was doing his best to seem presidential and look like he cared as he met with state leaders in Sacramento about the wildfire response, and Governor Gavin Newsom did his best not to spit in his face.
The stop in California has been planned for at least a couple of days, and Trump met with a small group to receive a briefing on the fires, due to coronavirus concerns. That group included Newsom, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Republican Congressmen Doug Lamalfa — in whose NorCal district the North Complex fires are currently burning, outside Oroville. Much like he did when he begrudgingly visited Paradise following the Camp Fire in late 2018, Trump was there to repeat what he's said before about "forest management" and to toe the Republican denial-line on the climate crisis.
As KRON4 reports, the Monday morning gathering took place at Sacramento's McLlellan Park, which has become a command center for state fire and emergency management officials. Per the Sacramento Bee, also in attendance was the Republican sheriff of Fresno County, Margaret Mims, who was reportedly participating as a law enforcement expert a roundtable with other officials.
Trump had his brief meeting with Newsom and the others just after 11 a.m. Monday, and according to a pool report — via the SF Chronicle — Newsom at least got in some words with Trump about his ongoing climate denying.
Newsom reportedly told Trump, "we’ve known each other too long and the working relationship I value. We feel very strongly the hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier. Something has happened to the plumbing of the world and we come from a perspective, humbly, that we assert the science that climate change is real. Please respect the difference of opinion out here with respect to the fundamental issue of climate change."
Trump replied, "Absolutely," but then said something about "It will start getting cooler" and "Just watch. I don’t think science knows, actually." Kind of sounds like what he said about the coronavirus, right!? It'll just magically go away! He knows stuff!
Watch this California official challenge Trump to recognize the changing climate — and the president deny science right to his face pic.twitter.com/5BcBrTv3dJ— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 14, 2020
Bafflingly, Trump then told reporters outside the meeting, "I think we’re totally in sync."
Governor Newsom and Congressman Lamalfa exchanged some words in the public sphere over the weekend, as the Bee notes, with Newsom decrying the fact that "We’re experiencing what so many people predicted decades ago... I’m exhausted that we have to continue to debate this issue." Lamalfa countered in a press release that his number-one priority was extinguishing the fires and getting people home, and that the region didn't need "a lecture." He added, "The President has extended his support to alleviate our suffering. Mr. Governor, what are you doing?"
Despite publicly bickering with Trump on many occasions on social media, Newsom has said that he and the president have worked well together in emergencies like this one.
Trump was greeted by protesters at McLlellan park, after the Sacramento Democratic Party put out word that they were hosting a rally there Monday morning. Below are some photos of those who gathered.
Masked up and 6 feet from each other (and hundreds of feet from the Trump supporters). Here in #Sacramento to peacefully protest a president responsible for the deaths of nearly 200,000 Americans (among many other travesties). pic.twitter.com/kfhD9mJ0Wo— Jennifer Fearing (wear your 😷!) (@JenniferFearing) September 14, 2020
Trump quickly departed the state on his way to a campaign event in Phoenix.
On Sunday, Trump held an indoor rally at a manufacturing plant in Henderson, Nevada that was denounced by the state's governor as "reckless" and "shameful." On Saturday in Nevada, per CNN, Trump once again used his repetitive rhetorical prowess to deny the issue of climate change and say, "I spoke to the folks in Oregon, Washington they're really -- they've never had anything like this. But you know it is about forest management. Please remember the words — very simple — forest management. Please remember. It's about forest management. And other things, but forest management."
Former Vice President Joe Biden was also set to be talking about the wildfires during a campaign stop in his home state of Delaware today, as CNN reports. But Biden was planning to use the wildfires to discuss the immediate threats of climate change, and the need to "create good-paying, union jobs to build more resilient infrastructure."
Photo: Jennifer Fearing/Twitter
This post has been updated throughout following the meeting.