Trump visits California as wildfires take campaign focus

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By Jeff Mason and Trevor Hunnicutt

LAS VEGAS/WILMINGTON, Del. – President Donald Trump will travel to California on Monday to be briefed about its devastating wildfires while Democratic rival Joe Biden plans a speech on the matter from Delaware, bringing climate change to the forefront of the presidential campaign.

Trump, a Republican who pulled the United States out of the Paris accord on global warming because he found it too costly, has expressed his view that poor forest management is partly to blame for the fires that are raging around the West Coast.

Democrats have emphasized that climate change has played a role, and Biden is expected to emphasize that in his remarks.

Trump will travel to McClellan Park, California to meet with local and federal officials for a briefing about the fires.

“The president continues to support those who are battling raging wildfires in a locally-executed, state-managed, and federally-supported emergency response,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement on Saturday.

Biden has included climate change in his list of major crises facing the United States, along with the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 194,000 and pushed the country into an economic recession.

“Vice President Biden will discuss the threat that extreme weather events pose to Americans everywhere, how they are both caused by and underscore the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis, and why we need to create good-paying, union jobs to build more resilient infrastructure,” his campaign said in a statement on Sunday.

A spate of deadly and destructive wildfires has hit California, Oregon and Washington this summer, destroying thousands of homes and a handful of small towns, burning more than 4 million acres and killing more than two dozen people since early August.

Fighting climate change is a key, motivating issue for young people and progressive-leaning voters that Biden needs to turn out to vote in the Nov. 3 election.

It is a more complicated issue for some Republicans, who, despite clear scientific evidence of its existence, question the data and the need for broad and expensive measures to fight it.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; editing by Diane Craft)

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