Donald Trump assured Americans on Monday that only his counter-terrorism strategies can protect them from the "hateful ideology" of radical Islam and keep terrorist groups from infiltrating the West.
Speaking to voters in Youngstown, Ohio, the Republican presidential nominee expanded on his existing package of anti-terror proposals, calling for an "ideological screening test" to evaluate immigrants' attitudes toward American values and the development of a commission on radical Islam to educate the public on Islamic militant movements and how to prevent vulnerable individuals from becoming radicalized.
"In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test," Trump noted. "The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today — I call it 'extreme vetting.' I call it extreme, extreme vetting."
While declining to describe what such a test might look like, Trump said the goal would be to weed out the "sympathizers of terrorist groups," those "who have hostile attitudes towards our country and its principles" and anyone who believes "Sharia law should supplant American law."
"Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or support bigotry or hatred, will not be admitted into our country," he said to rousing applause.
Trump spoke directly to critics of his previous call to bar Muslims from entering the U.S., promising instead to "temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions in the world who have a history of exporting terrorism." The proposal drew chants of "Trump, Trump, Trump" inside the auditorium at Youngstown State University.
"As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place," he said, vowing to "stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume."
After months of describing NATO as "obsolete," Trump admitted in his remarks that he would work "very closely" with the western alliance to fight terror and extinguish the Islamic State.
Furthermore, he proposed developing a commission on radical Islam whose goal would be to "explain to the American public the convictions and beliefs of radical Islam, identify the warning signs of radicalization and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization." The commission, he said, would incorporate "reformist voices in the Muslim community" and work with law enforcement authorities to develop new protocols for dealing with radicalized individuals.
"We will pursue aggressive criminal or immigration charges against anyone who lends material support to terrorism," he said. "Similar to the effort to take down the mafia, this will be the understood mission of every federal prosecutor and investigator in the country."
Trump, who has struggled to stick to his campaign's populist message for nearly two weeks now, billed his proposals as "common sense" steps toward greater national security, which, he claimed, has been compromised through "policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."
"We cannot let this evil continue, nor can we let the hateful ideology of radical Islam be allowed to reside or spread within our own country," Trump told the crowd. "We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism just as we have defeated every threat we've faced at every age and before."
"But we will not defeat it with closed eyes or silenced voices," he warned.