Trump pledges school choice for all, dishes on Title IX, illegal immigrant crime and more in exclusive Lion interview

School choice is coming nationwide if he’s elected, former President Donald Trump told Lion Week in Review podcast host Chris Stigall in an exclusive one-on-one interview in Philadelphia this…

School choice is coming nationwide if he’s elected, former President Donald Trump told Lion Week in Review podcast host Chris Stigall in an exclusive one-on-one interview in Philadelphia this weekend.

“Well, I’m a big fan of school choice. I think school choice is a great thing,” Trump said when asked about former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s assertion last week that it’s a civil rights issue.

“We already have a choice system in education,” Rice had said in an interview with the Ronald Reagan Foundation. “If you are of means, you will move to a district where the schools are good and the houses are expensive, like Palo Alto, California.

“How can you say you’re for civil rights, how can you say you’re for the poor, when you’re condemning those children to not be able to read? By the time they’re in 3rd grade, they’re never going to read.” 

“I didn’t realize she felt so strongly about it, but that’s great that she does,” Trump told Stigall, who also hosts a morning Philly radio talk show and the Making the Leap podcast for the Herzog Foundation, publisher of The Lion.

“School choice is a big deal, actually, and we’re going to get it. We’re also moving the Department of Education back to the states. You know, we’re at the bottom of every list, except we spend more per pupil than any other country. And we’re gonna move it back [to the states].”

Having promised to abolish the U.S. Department of Education, Trump warns that some states “won’t do as good and some won’t do very good at all, because they’ll run it like they run it anyway. You know who I’m talking about. 

“But many of these states are going to do a phenomenal job. They’ll be at the top of the list. So, we’re moving education back to the states. We’ll do it for half the cost, less than half the cost, and we’ll get a real education out of it.”

Stigall interviewed the former president Saturday before his rally at Temple University’s Liacouras Center. In an interview spanning fewer than six minutes, they also talked about Trump’s opponent in Thursday’s first presidential debate; the state of the nation; Russian warships off the U.S. coast; illegal immigrant crime; protecting women’s sports from biological men; and the moving moment when a young fan cried while meeting the impending Republican nominee.

Of the Russian military’s recent provocative exercises in the waters off Florida, Trump told Stigall, “You’re the first one that’s really spoken about it. Congratulations!”

“Nobody talks about it,” Trump said. “I mean, think of it: You have submarines and you have destroyers, you have boats – a big deal, right off essentially the coast of Miami, OK? It’s right off the coast of Florida. And Cuba is right there, and it’s like, nobody talks about it, including the fake news.

“We’re a failing nation right now. We’re failing nation. We’re not respected, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Stigall compared Russia’s brazen war games off the U.S. coast to the Chinese spy balloon that was allowed to cross the entire continental United States from west to east early last year before being belatedly shot down over the Atlantic Ocean.

“Well, that’s true,” Trump said, though adding, “I think the spy balloon wasn’t as bad. I mean, to me, to have a submarine, Russian submarine, right next to our shore – and who knows what’s on that submarine? – and a lot of other boats too, military ships … it’s pretty sad.”

Of the 2023 spy balloon, Trump remarked, “You shoot it down before it crosses. You don’t shoot it down after it’s already crossed.”

Asked about Biden’s new Title IX rule requiring the inclusion of biological males who identify as female into girls’ and women’s sports, Trump was at his most adamant.

“It’s hard to believe I even have to mention that, Chris, because it’s embarrassing even to bring it up. Who would think that men are competing against women in sports? A woman was hurt the other day in a volleyball contest. Whoever heard of that? She’s like an All-American player – and she said the ball was hit at a speed that she never saw before. And she was badly injured, actually.

“You look at the swimming records, they’re being not just beaten, they’re being decimated. You know, a record that stood for years over an 1/8 of a second, and they’re being beaten by numbers that nobody ever heard. Weightlifting records, that’s the worst of all. 

“It’s just crazy. And they fight for it. They really believe it.

“I thought at first, am I hearing things, or are they joking? But they’re not joking. They’re totally serious over it. And you wonder where this ideology comes from. It’s a sick ideology. And in that case, it’s so bad for women. It’s so demeaning to women. 

“But we’re going to handle it. First day I will write it out: no more men competing in women’s sports. I write it right off the books.”

Asked how he feels about debating President Joe Biden Thursday with CNN in control of the microphones and left-wing moderators Dana Bash and Jake Tapper leading the discussion, Trump responded, “Well, it’s probably a one-on-three.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, though. It’s unfortunate that the country is divided like this. I think Joe Biden’s divided the country more than any other president. He’s the worst president we’ve ever had – in every way. There’s not one way in which you consider him to be even a modestly good president.

“But we’ll handle that.”

With Biden holed up at Camp David for an entire week to prepare for the debate, Trump noted that “people say, ‘How are you preparing?’ I’m preparing by taking questions from you and others, if you think about it. … I’m preparing by dealing with you.”

Also on Saturday Trump spoke to the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s yearly Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C.

“We had an incredible crowd. And that means a lot. Ralph Reed’s done a fantastic job,” Trump said of the coalition’s founder and chairman.

Asked about Father’s Day and fatherhood, in the wake of the young supporter wearing a Trump wig whom he met at a cheesesteak shop earlier – and who became overwhelmed with emotion to meet the former president and to get a signed $20 bill from him – Trump pivoted quickly to the emotions washing over most Americans today in the face of the country’s challenges and the current administration’s inability or unwillingness to meet them.

“He was so beautiful. I thought he was the happiest guy, and all of a sudden, he just broke down and cried. But he is a beautiful guy. Well, it was such a beautiful emotion.

“You know, everybody wants hope. The country’s doing so badly. We have the worst president and we’re just doing so badly, and it’s like, they just want hope.”

Stigall noted the murders and rapes taking place across the nation at the hands of illegal immigrants pouring over the border unaccountably – as the Biden Department of Justice targets concerned law-abiding parents.

Trump expressed common cause with them.

“I do. [The DOJ is targeting] me and parents and Catholics, Christians – but Catholics, I don’t know what’s going on with Catholics, but they’re really going after Catholics.

“The only ones they don’t target are bad people and killers, murderers, drug dealers. The country has really lost its way. It’s lost everything. It’s just so bad. And we have to win this election. If we don’t win this election, it’s going to be such a tragedy.”