Watch Trump Pushes Parental Rights in First Campaign ’24 Visit to Iowa | Elections – US Latest News

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Former President Donald Trump offered voters a sweeping – if, at times, confusing – vision for a conservative overhaul of the U.S. public school system on Monday evening, presenting a buffet of proposals in the name of parental rights during his first visit to Iowa since announcing his bid for president.

“I will bring parental rights back into our school system,” he said. “Parents, you have rights.”

Among other things, Trump said that, if elected, he would sign executive orders that eliminate funding for “any school pushing critical race theory,” those allowing transgender students to play sports on the team that matches their identity and any schools teaching “inappropriate racial, sexual or political content.”

“What they are teaching in schools today is insane,” he said.

Much of what Trump outlined he wouldn’t be able to enact on his own, and some proposals are not allowed under the current federal law governing K-12 education – the Every Student Success Act, which specifically limits the federal government’s control over state and local district decisions.

He spent several minutes balking at the idea that transgender girls are competing on girls sports teams – an issue that’s become a popular conservative talking point in the ongoing education culture wars, even though just 1.4% of K-12 athletes and just 34 of the roughly 110,000 collegiate women athletes are transgender.

“Our country has gone crazy with this nonsense,” he added. “I believe it’s people who hate our country. It has to be.”

Trump also promised to eliminate the Education Department and redistribute its functions to states and to “not give one penny” to schools that require vaccinations – though he provided no details about whether that was specific to COVID-19 vaccines or other longstanding vaccination requirements.

In addition, he congratulated Iowans on the recent passage by their Republican-controlled legislature of a bill that will allow any Iowa family to use nearly $8,000 annually in taxpayer funds to pay for private school tuition and pledged to enact similar policies if elected.

“School choice is where it’s at,” Trump said. “As president, I’ll fight to expand that right to every single state in America.”

In what’s become a race to the right between Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, some of the former president’s proposals were outlandish – including a proposal to allow parents to elect school principals.

“They should be elected by the parents,” he said. “If any principal is not getting the job done – of which you have many, many, many, especially in the inner cities – the parents should be able to vote to fire them and select somebody who will get the job done.”

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DeSantis, who hasn’t announced his candidacy yet but is widely expected to run, visited the all-important first-in-the-nation caucus state on Friday, where he made stops in Davenport and Des Moines to stump his new book, “The Courage to Be Free,” and met with Republican legislators at the Capitol.

DeSantis was anointed the “the education governor” by conservative supporters during his recent reelection campaign due in part to his demanding schools reopen and remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, even in districts where infection and transmission rates were soaring. Over the next two years, he cemented that moniker and catapulted onto the national GOP stage by pouring accelerant on long-standing education culture wars – banning books that centered on racial and ethnic minorities, for example, prohibiting discussions about LGBTQ issues, barring efforts to increase diversity and equity and gutting anything that smacks of critical race theory.

So far, polls show Trump and DeSantis as the only serious candidates for the GOP nomination, trading off top spots and notching 20-point leads over their next closest rivals. A Real Clear Politics polling average shows 45% of respondents backing Trump as the Republican nominee for president, while 29% back DeSantis. No other candidate is polling in double digits.

A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll published last week showed a similar lead for Trump and DeSantis. But baked into it was a warning for Trump: While many Iowa Republicans continue supporting Trump, his influence there has waned significantly since June 2021 – falling more than 20 percentage points – in a trend that doesn’t show signs of slowing.

The poll shows Trump viewed favorably by 80% of Iowa Republicans, compared to DeSantis who is viewed favorably by 74%. But the former president’s unfavorable numbers are climbing, with the percentage of Iowa Republicans viewing him unfavorably more than doubling – from 7% in 2021 to 18% now. DeSantis is viewed unfavorably by just 6% of Iowa Republicans.

Notably, Trump has a mixed record in Iowa, placing second there to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in 2016 – after which he claimed massive fraud cost him the victory – and overwhelmingly winning in his 2020 reelection bid when he ran with virtually no competition.

During his speech on Monday, Trump also spent a significant amount of time talking about farm subsidies, lamenting the high price of fertilizer and making promises to unleash ethanol to an adoring crowd gathered in the agriculture-heavy state.

“After doing all this, how could a farmer vote against me?” he asked. “Within an hour of my inauguration, I will cancel every Biden policy that is brutalizing farmers.”

Trump also promised not to cut Medicare or Social Security and repeated claims that the 2020 election was rigged and that he actually won the election that President Joe Biden took by more than 7 million votes.

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