President Donald Trump and California Governor Gavin Newsom discussed California’s wildfires and climate change during the president’s recent visit to the state. 

What You Need To Know

  • President Donald Trump visited California recently for a briefing on the wildfires across the state

  • California Governor Gavin Newsom met with the President where the two discussed climate change

  • CalMatters’ California political reporter Laurel Rosenhall tells Inside the Issues the leaders have had an “interesting” relationship the last two years

  • The visit was a chance for Trump to show Californians that he is “a caring and compassionate president," said Rosenhall

CalMatters’ California politics reporter Laurel Rosenhall described the two as “frenemies,” telling Inside the Issues watching the relationship between the two during Newsom’s time as governor has been “interesting.”

“He ran, in 2018, on basically an anti-Trump agenda that was his, almost, entire political persona: ‘I am not Donald Trump, I oppose everything about Donald Trump, I'm going to leave the state of resistance and we're going to stick it to the president.’ That was basically his campaign,” said Rosenhall. “After taking office, he has been deluged, our state has been deluged, with ongoing crises and disasters that really require cooperation with the federal government and it's forced him to have to take a conciliatory tone with Donald Trump, that we could have never imagined a couple years ago when we were watching him campaign.”

The visit was a chance for Trump to show Californians that he is “a caring and compassionate president who is looking out for Americans, that he's responding to disaster and that he notices what's happening here on the West Coast,” said Rosenhall, in an effort to boost his campaign. 

“He had come under a lot of criticism for not really making many public statements about this horrible wildfire season that the West Coast is experiencing and so this was a chance to come in and show that he’s doing something,” she explained.

Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris, who is from California, visited firefighters in Fresno this week. Presidential Candidate Joe Biden hasn’t announced any plans to visit the state. 

When it comes to showing voters what they care about, Rosenhall said many Californians will want to hear the words “climate change.”

“Polling shows that Californians really do care about climate change. More than half of voters in a survey just last month said that they personally are feeling the impacts of climate change and that they think it's a very important issue,” she said. “Joe Biden didn’t miss a beat in terms of knowing that Trump was going to be in California yesterday on the wildfire issue. He planned a whole speech on climate change and he called President Trump a ‘climate arsonist’ and talked about the smoky skies, the orange skies in California and seemed to really understand what Californians have been going through these last few weeks in this extremely difficult time when so many of us wake up in the morning and find our cars are covered in ash, or we can’t go out and go for a jog because the air quality is so poor.”

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