Mr Trump, who has been heavily criticized for barely coping with the crisis before, broke the campaign’s western cradle to make a two-hour visit to McClellan Park Airport near Sacramento, where Air Force One descended through the smoke fog. Not far away, one of the largest fires, which is now widespread, recently burned more than 363,000 acres.
As soon as the president got off the plane at Sacramento McClellan Airport, where the stench of smoke filled the air, he did not wait for the scheduled briefing to tell reporters that the cause of the fire was poor forest management, not climate change.
However, at a subsequent briefing, Governor Gavin Newsum and his best environmental adviser urged the president to recognize the role of climate change. Mr Newsom, a Democrat, made the point of doing so extremely politely, reaffirming his working relationship with the president, thanking him for federal aid and agreeing that forest management needs to be improved.
But Mr Newsom noted that only 3% of California’s land is under state control, while 57% is federal forest land, which means under the president’s control as regulated by federal law.
“As you suggest, the working relationship that I value,” Mr Newsom said. But he said climate change was clearly a factor. “Something is happening with plumbing in the world, and we come from the point of view of humility, where we say it’s science and the evidence is clear that climate change is real, and it makes it worse.”