MALIBU – Patrick Schwarzenegger had a lot to say about President Trump's handling of last year’s deadly California wildfires which left thousands of residents displaced and without shelter.
The actor, model and elder son of Maria Shriver and former Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t hold back his frustration with the president and took exception with comments Trump tweeted in which he attributed the “costly forest fires” to “gross mismanagement of the forests” and threatened to pull federal government assistance and funding in the midst of the state of emergency.
“I think the timing of the comments were inappropriate. It was a time that we were grieving, and as a matter of fact, I think at the time it was only 8 percent contained," Schwarzenegger, 25, told reporters Sunday at the California Strong Celebrity Softball game at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
“I think it should have started with a thank you to the first responders and a thank you to the firefighters and those who were coming over from Vegas, Colorado and other places that were sending in help,” he said. “[He should] not start with the negative. I think we all know what the negative is, we’re going through it and we still have it in our backyard.”
The actor continued: “Look, I think there are two ways you can always start – it’s blaming one thing or finding a way to fix things. And if he wants to comment about it now or find ways to make it better and alleviate it in the future, great – but at the moment the fires were going on, we had firefighters who hadn’t slept for f---ing 60 hours working their a--es off, not eating, not drinking water – not sleeping. We had people who were donating their houses and their school community gyms for people to sleep in – we had people donating food, everything. And, you’re talking about how we weren’t prepared – I don’t know, there are two things you can focus on, and I just thought it was inappropriate at the time.”
While much of Malibu and the surrounding cities still remain charred from the Woolsey Fire that scorched Los Angeles and nearby Ventura Counties, and prompted the evacuation of nearly 300,000 people, Schwarzenegger couldn’t help but recall the destruction he and his family felt first-hand all while opening their homes to friends who were forced to leave their residences behind.
“It was such a wild time. I felt like every day and every hour something new was kind of happening between Thousand Oaks and Malibu, and then the fire kind of jumping over. It’s just one of those things that it’s so crazy that it can just happen so rapidly,” lamented Schwarzenegger, who showed his support over the weekend, playing in an inaugural softball game hosted by California Strong — a non-profit response effort to the recent California tragedies — created by California natives LA Rams’ QB Jared Goff, MLB players Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and Mike Moustakas, in partnership with the Southeast Ventura County YMCA.
“I remember when I was there because we had to have a couple people sleep over at our house from Malibu, who got displaced and one of our friend’s houses actually burned down, so he lived at my sister’s for a month until he could get another place to stay. Honestly, it’s a heartbreaking, sad time – but, my dad was governor for seven-and-a-half years and this is something that I’ve seen and I’ve gone through in all of California.”
Having gone through it personally, Schwarzenegger wouldn't have been anywhere else on Sunday, but at the California Strong event to help raise money for victims.
“It’s awesome. I think this whole thing is awesome. I’m always supportive of charity events, especially when it’s something where the whole community gets to watch a bunch of athletes and celebrities play and let’s all have fun at the same time," he explained. "Let’s raise money, let’s help the victims – it’s a win for everybody.”
The “Midnight Sun” performer said the wildfires also strengthened the bond he shares with his family and credits his immense empathy for victims and first responders.
“Unfortunately, it seems like every year there is some crazy wildfire and when [my dad] was governor we went and had the privilege to go and meet some of these first-responders and fire departments and police departments, the families of victims – so, it’s something that I’ve been through and have gotten to see and feel out, but obviously this is a little bit different since it was in our backyard, 15 minutes from where I live," he said.
“I’m a big family guy. I hang out with my family probably more than the average 25-year-old does, but we just do everything. I was just with my mom and we just made oatmeal at the house and were watching the Chargers and the Patriots game. I’ll go on a bike ride with my dad later – we just do everything together.”
Schwarzenegger's older sister Katherine, 29, recently announced her engagement to actor Chris Pratt.