Donald Trump’s plan to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil includes a screening test meant to allow entrance only to immigrants "who we expect to flourish in our country."
"In the Cold War we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today," the Republican presidential nominee said in a national-security speech Monday afternoon at Youngstown State University in Ohio. "I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme. Extreme vetting. Our country has enough problems. We don't need more. And these are problems like we've never had before."
Trump said he also plans to halt immigration from nations with a "history of exporting terrorism" until new procedures are implemented by the government to properly screen applications from those parts of the world.
He sharply attacked Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as "unfit" for commander-in-chief duties, saying she does not have the "stamina" to deal with threats to national security like the Islamic State.
For a week, Trump has been laying the groundwork for contrasting his own approach to countering the Islamic State with Democrats, calling President Barack Obama the group's “founder” and Clinton the co-founder.
"The rise of ISIS is the direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton," Trump said. "It is time for a new approach."
In one contrast, Trump said he will end U.S. involvement in nation-building and focus on halting the spread of Islamic terrorism.
"All actions should be oriented around this goal, and any country which shares this goal will be our ally," he said. "We cannot always choose our friends, but we can never fail to recognize our enemies."
Potential allies in the anti-Islamic State fight included Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Russia, Trump said. NATO, which he's criticized as "obsolete," was also named as an organization a Trump administration would work closely with. However, he did not detail tactics or strategy, vowing he "will not telegraph exact military plans to the enemy."
Singling out Russia, Trump said the U.S. should "find common ground'' with leaders in Moscow in the fight against the Islamic State. Russia is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's leading patron and its jets have helped its army target rebels fighting to overthrow his regime.
But Trump left out that the Obama administration is already in talks with President Vladimir Putin's government over joint operations in Syria. A key problem has been separating out rebels worth backing from those allied with al Qaeda and other extremist groups.
"The Obama administration is trying like crazy to do that,'' said Andrew Tabler, who studies Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "The problem is finding terms you would find acceptable.''
The Clinton campaign responded to Trump's immigrant vetting proposal of the speech in harsh terms.
"This so-called ‘policy’ cannot be taken seriously," senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. "How can Trump put this forward with a straight face when he opposes marriage equality and selected as his running mate the man who signed an anti-LGBT law in Indiana? It's a cynical ploy to escape scrutiny of his outrageous proposal to ban an entire religion from our country and no one should fall for it."
A pro-Clinton super-PAC also attacked Trump.
"His ‘extreme vetting’ proposal is simply a rebranding of his bigoted ban on Muslims," said Brad Woodhouse, President of Correct The Record. "He claims he wants work with other countries to fight ISIS, but has spent the past year disparaging our closest allies and undermining the NATO alliance."
Trump and Mike Pence, the vice-presidential nominee, were introduced by one of their most loyal surrogates, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
"Donald Trump is our only hope for change in the way in which we approach extremist terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism," he said.
Giuliani returned to familiar attacks on both Obama and Clinton, knocking the two Democrats for their handling of foreign policy, as well as Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state.
"She has destroyed more e-mails than I have ever written," Giuliani said.
But there was one line from his speech that raised immediate questions. “Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the US.,” said Giuliani, who presided as New York's mayor during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that brought down the Twin Towers.
—With assistance from Nick Wadhams.