Joe Biden went on offense in advance of Donald Trump’s visit to California on Monday, as the Democratic nominee blasted the president as a “climate arsonist” who is ignoring science and how it relates to extreme wildfires out west and natural disasters elsewhere.
“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?” Biden said in remarks from Delaware. “If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is underwater?”
Trump is scheduled to meet later on Monday with California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, to talk about the wildfire devastation in the state. The president has blamed the severity of the fires on bad forest management, saying that dried fallen trees act like matchsticks that worsen blazes.
“When you have years of dried leaves on the ground, it just sets fuel for the fire,” Trump told reporters on Monday, shortly after Biden’s remarks.
Biden also tried to turn one of Trump’s attack lines against him. Trump’s campaign has warned that a Biden presidency would mean an end to the suburbs, citing unrest in major cities.
On MSNBC, Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State, said that even when taking into account forest management, it still does not explain the severity of the weather and natural disasters.
“We are seeing dangerous climate change, playing out before are eyes,” Mann said.
Trump has in the past threatened to cut off federal funding to the state’s emergency response to the fires as he has blamed California leaders for not doing enough to clear the forests to try to prevent the spread of drastic blazes. But the federal government also bears responsibility for forest management, as more than half of the state’s forests are on federal land.
In his speech, Biden said, Trump has “already said he wanted to withhold aid to California — to punish the people of California — because they didn’t vote for him. This is yet another crisis he won’t take responsibility for.”
Biden was referring to claims by Miles Taylor, a former top official in the Department of Homeland Security, who said that the president “told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him.”