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Donald Trump Delivers Foreign Policy Speech In Washington, D.C.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

On the heels of his sweep of yesterday's primaries, Donald Trump declared himself the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Today, he tried to look the part, delivering a carefully crafted speech on foreign policy. NPR's Scott Horsley begins our coverage.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Donald Trump showed little of his signature bombast today as he delivered his foreign policy address. He largely stuck to his prepared text, reading from a teleprompter as he outlined the approach to global affairs he calls America first.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: On trade, on immigration, on foreign policy, the jobs, incomes and security of the American worker will always be my first priority.

HORSLEY: Trump was harshly critical of the way President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted foreign policy, but there was none of his usual name-calling. Instead, he delivered a critique much like those we've heard in the past from mainstream Republicans, like Mitt Romney and John McCain. Trump promised to beef up America's military forces and chart a more consistent course in foreign affairs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: To our friends and allies, I say, America is going to be strong again. America is going to be reliable again.

HORSLEY: Mary Beth Long is a former assistant defense secretary who, like many Republican policy advisers, has been critical in the past of Trump's shoot-from-the-hip approach to foreign policy. She thinks the candidate helped himself with today's cooler approach.

MARY BETH LONG: I think, on balance, he looked more presidential. He looked more thoughtful to the extent people were looking for him to tone it down and preemptively undermine arguments that he's not prepared in the foreign-policy realm. I think he did a pretty good job.

HORSLEY: There are still some contradictions in Trump's foreign policy. He says the U.S. must be a reliable ally, but suggests we stop defending friends in Europe and Asia unless they fork over more money.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense. And if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.

HORSLEY: Trump also said he would work closely with, quote, "our friends in the Muslim world" to combat terrorism. But he did not back down from his proposal for a temporary ban on Muslim visitors to the U.S.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We must stop importing extremism through senseless immigration policies. We have no idea where these people are coming from. There's no documentation. There's no paperwork. There's nothing.

HORSLEY: Mary Beth Long also notes that while Trump took a hard-line today against aggression by China and North Korea, he had little to say about Russia's moves in eastern Ukraine.

LONG: He either has blinders or he's reluctant to call out President Putin and Russia for its bad activities. And I think that will bite him.

HORSLEY: Trump has spoken approvingly in the past about Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying, at least he's a leader. Trump is trying to show a different side of his own approach to leadership as he closes in on the GOP nomination and the general election. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.