California Congressman Duncan Hunter Says Dems Are Playing Politics with The California Wildfires

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," October 23, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The Democrats could be playing politics with these California wildfires — Senator Barbara Boxer charging today that the Iraq war is hurting the fire fight.

Reaction now from California Congressman Duncan Hunter. He lost his home to a wildfire back in 2003.

Congressman, good to have you.


CAVUTO: All right.

I know this is tough for you. I mean, you must be looking at this again and saying, "Uh-oh."

What has changed since 2003 versus now, in terms of either things that were not done that should have been done, or things that were done that, thank God, were done? What?

HUNTER: Well, you know, Neil, actually I think we're — we're doing a very effective job right now, federal, state and local.

I'm concentrating right now on these MAF aircraft, these firefighting C-130s that the National Guard is sending in from Colorado and from Wyoming and North Carolina that should be getting here today to help us stop some of these out-of-control fires.

But — but, listen, I don't — I don't look at San Diegans as victims. We're tough. The middle name in the trademark for San Diegans is 'Character'. We're going to bounce back from this. We're going to rebuild.

And, you know, these are the shores from which American Marines and sailors go forth to fight for freedom all over the world. We're used to sacrifices. We're used to burdens. We're going to get through this fire.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Congressman, the fact that some on the Hill have started to say, "Well, we would have more to fight fires like this if not for Iraq," I tell you, every time I see a bridge fall or a tunnel compromised, that's the first sort of issue brought up.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it took this long.


HUNTER: You know, they have got to have some creative writers to somehow link these — these natural disasters with — with troops in Iraq, because, first, we have got thousands of Marines who are available right now at Camp Pendleton.

And you get a 60-mile-an-hour wind, and a lot of brittle sagebrush in front of you, and this — this what you might call a perfect storm of wind patterns, and a lot of — a lot of heat, and you get these fires moving at an incredible speed across the California sagebrush, you could put the entire U.S. Army in front of them, and you can't stop them. You can mitigate them. You can try to block them at the pass, and you can try to neutralize them and back them down as the conditions improve.

But this has nothing to do with the disbursement of American troops around the world. In fact, at this place, in San Diego, we have got access to more troops, more helicopters, more military equipment than probably anyplace else in the country.

Unfortunately, we got a lot of desert, and we have got hot winds coming off that desert, and we have got — we have got real drought conditions that are contributing to this fire.

But, once again, San Diegans are going to come back, and we're going to rebuild, and we're going to be better than ever.

CAVUTO: All right. Congressman, thank you very much — Congressman Duncan Hunter in California right now.

HUNTER: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: It makes you wonder. If we weren't in Iraq, I suppose these winds wouldn't have come, these fires wouldn't have started? I don't know.

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