(CNN) – As wildfires continue to ravage the Texas landscape, presidential candidate Rick Perry said his mind is on the Lone Star State this week, not politics.
“I’m not paying any attention to politics right now,” the Texas governor said at a press conference in Bastrop County Monday. “There’s plenty of time to take care of that. People’s lives are in danger. That’s substantially more important.”
His statement was met with applause.
Perry is slated to attend his first 2012 GOP presidential debate Wednesday in California. While he canceled his California schedule for Tuesday, he didn’t indicate whether he’s still going to the debate later this week.
Perry skipped a Labor Day presidential forum in South Carolina earlier in the day to fly home and deal with the situation.
GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, who hosted the forum, said he was disappointed that Perry couldn’t make the event but understood the governor’s reason for canceling.
“I don’t blame him at all. I think he needed to be at home in Texas,” DeMint told CNN’s John King. “He promised to make up for it by doubling his commitment in South Carolina, so we’ll work through that.”
Due to an historic drought coupled with high winds, Texas has been fighting a relentless battle with wildfires since the season began in November.
A record 3.5 million acres – roughly the size of Connecticut - have been destroyed, marking the worst wildfire season the state has ever experienced.
“I’ve seen a number of big fires in my life,” Perry said. “This one is as mean-looking as I’ve ever seen.”