Donald Trump Delivers National Security Speech In Ohio

Aug 15, 2016
Originally published on August 15, 2016 6:19 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Youngstown, Ohio, today, Donald Trump said he wants people to pass an ideological test before entering the U.S. It was one of many proposals he delivered in a speech on what he identifies as radical Islamic terrorism. NPR's Tamara Keith reports this is Trump's latest effort to get back on message.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Donald Trump rotated deliberately from side to side, reading his prepared remarks slowly from a pair of teleprompter screens.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

DONALD TRUMP: Today we begin a conversation about how to make America safe again.

KEITH: Trump went through a long list of recent attacks in America and around the world and then laid out his case that he'd be the best person to take on ISIS. Last week Trump delivered a similarly scripted speech about the economy before his message was rapidly derailed by unscripted remarks at raucous rallies - first the Second Amendment people aside, then later in the week saying President Obama was the founder of ISIS.

Trump doubled down on the founder of ISIS remarks before later tweeting that he was being sarcastic. In today's speech, he used more staid language to make the same point.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: The failure to establish a new status of forces agreement in Iraq and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS without question.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: As for how Trump would combat ISIS, he said he would create a commission to study radical Islamic terrorism, work with friendly Islamic countries, not allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool and work with Russia.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: Wouldn't that be a good thing? Wouldn't that be a good thing?

(APPLAUSE)

KEITH: He said he would keep open the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continue using drones but also seek to capture enemies to gain more intelligence. Trump's Guantanamo pledge is a departure from the stated goals of President Obama. But on the other two points, Trump's message is actually in line with Obama administration policy. Anymore specifics on strategy Trump said he would keep to himself.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has risked so many lives with her careless handling of sensitive information, my administration will not telegraph exactly military plans and what they are.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

KEITH: Where Trump did offer more detail was on how he would keep terrorists or people whose children might later become terrorists from coming to America.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.

KEITH: He talked about screening out terrorist sympathizers, those who don't believe in the U.S. Constitution or those who favor Sharia law over the laws of America.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TRUMP: 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.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

KEITH: This is an evolution of the temporary Muslim ban Trump introduced earlier in the campaign. Now he calls for this vetting in conjunction with a temporary ban on people entering the U.S. from countries with a history of terrorism where this sort of vetting might be impossible. The question now is whether Trump can venture away from the teleprompter and stay on message. Republican political consultant Ron Christie isn't convinced.

RON CHRISTIE: I'd like to see Donald Trump spend a day, two days, five days, seven days, two weeks without any gaff, without any errors, without attacking people on Twitter, without going after Gold Star Families.

KEITH: There has been talk of a Trump pivot before, usually right around one of these teleprompter speeches. Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who did work for Marco Rubio, describes himself as depressed for his party.

WHIT AYRES: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Waiting for Donald Trump to change is like marrying someone in the hope that they will turn into someone you can love. That is always a bad bet.

KEITH: As Trump himself said on Twitter, quote, "the media wants me to change, but it would be very dishonest to supporters to do so." Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.