For weeks, President Donald Trump has claimed that the nation will not be safe if Joe Biden wins the presidency, because he would allow the violence of America’s cities to flood the suburbs. But as wildfires continue to seize the West Coast, Biden flipped the argument Monday, pointing to President Trump as the true danger to America’s small towns. Now, with seven weeks until the general election, it looks like climate change may indeed become a campaign issue.
“You know what is actually threatening our suburbs?” Biden posed during a speech in Delaware. “Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the West. Floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest. Hurricanes are imperiling suburban life along our coast. If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in super storms?”
Fight for the Suburbs
Both leading presidential candidates have long viewed suburban voters as essential to victory in November. But as this summer’s civil unrest in response to police brutality has turned violent in major cities, the Trump campaign has capitalized on the chance to evoke fear in suburban voters. “They want to abolish the suburbs,” Trump has repeated to his supporters, alleging that a win for Democrats would mean the spread of unrest into the middle class towns he desperately needs to carry in order to win reelection.
All the while, Trump has been relatively quiet on the subject of climate change, even as California, Oregon, and Washington State have witnessed the worst wildfire catastrophe in recorded history. Until Monday when the President met with officials in California, including Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, to discuss the natural disasters burning the Pacific Coast. But Trump scoffed at any suggestion that climate change was to blame, or would continue to cause destruction. When Wade Crowfoot, California’s secretary for natural resources, told the President he wanted to work with him to address the peril that climate change presents to his state, Trump laughed.
“It’ll start getting cooler,” the President said. “You just watch.”
“I wish science agreed with you,” Crawford replied.
“Well I don’t think that science knows, actually” Trump responded with a smirk.
Climate Has Entered the Debate
Now, with only weeks before an election that has already been defined by a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and a national dialogue around race relations and policing, climate change has officially entered the debate. In his Monday speech, Biden called the President both a “climate denier” and a “climate arsonist,” whose unwillingness to accept the science behind climate change will cause irreparable harm in a second term.
“We need a president who respects science,” Biden said. “Who understands that the damage from climate change is already here. Unless we take urgent action, it’ll soon be more catastrophic.”