Former President Donald Trump criticized his successor's energy policies, predicted rolling blackout and brownouts this summer, and warned of the potential for another world war in an exclusive interview Thursday with The Center Square.
In a wide-ranging telephone interview on topics such as Illinois' Tuesday primary, Chicago's gun violence, record gas prices and more, Trump told The Center Square that in less than two years under President Joe Biden, the country has lost the respect of the world.
"We're not respected as a country, he's [Biden] not respected, and this country is just not respected anymore," Trump said, pointing to 40-year high inflation, record gas prices and the war between Russia and Ukraine. "This took place in less than two years."
With the average price of a gallon of gasoline at nearly $5 a gallon, Trump said Americans should only expect those prices to continue going up with Biden's green energy policies.
"With inflation the way it is, with fuel prices now at $6, $7, $8 a gallon and more" in some places, Trump said, "it's going up higher, more than that."
Republicans have blamed Biden's restrictions on the oil and gas sector for record high gas prices. Biden has blamed Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February and oil companies' thirst for profits.
Trump also predicted that the move to green energy at the expense of fossil fuels could mean widespread power outages this summer.
"We were actually energy independent, energy independent, nobody thought that would be possible and soon to be energy dominant we would have been bigger that Saudi Arabia, Russia put together," he told The Center Square. "By far, actually. Making a fortune. And having energy like nobody's ever seen. ... Now you're going to have, here's another prediction, brownouts and blackouts all over the country this summer.
"All these states that are going green, it doesn't work," he added. "And wait until you see what happens."
Midcontinent Independent System Operator is warning states within its footprint of possible blackouts and rising energy prices that could cost families as much as $600 more a year. The announcement was just an advisory and was not the elevated “warning” or “event” stage, but they said the next advisories could require electric utilities to request energy conservation or possible rolling blackouts and power outages as Illinois looks to shut down coal fired power plants by 2045, though some are closing. The grid services Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and North Dakota, most of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana and South Dakota, and parts of Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana and Texas.
Trump also criticized Biden's foreign policy, and warned of the potential for another world war after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"I'll give you another prediction, we're in danger of a world war," he told The Center Square. "You look at what's going on in Russia and Ukraine, which would have never happened had I been president. It would have never happened. And it didn't happen. and watch China with Taiwan."
Russia's war with Ukraine is now four months old. The U.S. and European allies have provided weapons, and monetary and humanitarian aid to Ukraine but have not committed troops. The U.S. and NATO also have been closely monitoring China's interactions with Taiwan.
Trump will be in Illinois Saturday to campaign for Republican Congresswoman Mary Miller, who because of redistricting is facing a tough reelection campaign against her current congressional colleague, U.S. Rep Rodney Davis.
"Well, she's somebody I've gotten to know, she's a high quality person, she's been all for me all the way, and you have to remember that," Trump said when asked why he was endorsing Miller over Davis. "She's just a very good person and a very MAGA person," adding that Davis had said some "bad things" about him at points.
Because of Illinois’ population decline, the state lost a seat in the next U.S. Congress. Statehouse Democrats approved maps that drew Davis and Miller into a sweeping new 15th Congressional District that includes Quincy to the west, Aledo to the north, Jerseyville to the south and Paris to the east. It excludes East St. Louis, parts of Springfield and Urbana.
Illinois' Republican and Democratic primaries are Tuesday.
With six Republican candidates running in the primary to try to unseat incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Trump said he thinks state Sen. Darren Bailey has a shot to win. Trump hasn't endorsed in the race, however.
“Pritzker has been a terrible, terrible governor. He’s done just such a bad job with the lockdowns and with everything else,” Trump said. “But I think maybe Bailey would be the one.”
Bailey faces Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, entrepreneur Jesse Sullivan, Gary Rabine, Paul Schimpf and Max Solomon.
On Chicago's gun violence, the president compared the nation's third largest city to Afghanistan.
"Where many people would be shot over a weekend, and many killed in many cases, and it was terrible," he said. "It's gotten worse. It's not even believable. That's not living in a safe place. That's not even getting close to living in a safe place. .. It's like we're in a third word country."
So far in Chicago this year, 278 people have been shot and killed and an additional 1,218 have been shot and wounded.