Donald Trump's lack of specific policy proposals -- or the extremism of the ones he has put forward -- continue to put GOP officials in a bind when they try to talk about the party's vision on the issues of the day.
House Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) found himself in one of these situations Sunday, when he criticized Democrats for their record on terrorism but couldn't pinpoint how his party's presumptive presidential nominee would make things any better.
McCaul said on ABC's "This Week" that he didn't want to attack President Barack Obama personally, but he did believe "the foreign policy that's been conducted over the last three-and-a-half years since we've known about ISIS has led to" attacks like the June 12 shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people.
"So, have you heard anything from your presumptive Republican nominee since this attack, or before, that would better prevent or fight this threat?" host Jonathan Karl asked. McCaul struggled to name anything specific from Trump:
McCAUL: I think, again, not waiting three-and-a-half years to deal with the problem. I think you'll hear --
KARL: But have you heard specifics out of Donald Trump that reassure you on this?
McCAUL: The presumptive nominee will tell you that the architect of this foreign policy, Hillary Clinton, is liable for this, that she was the one who was responsible for the rise and formation of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
KARL: If you want to argue about the past, you could say George Bush. You could say the invasion of Iraq. I mean, there wouldn't be an al Qaeda in Iraq, which led -- which transformed into ISIS if we didn't have the invasion?
MCCAUL: Well, of course, the the Arab Spring turned out to be an Arab winter in northern Africa -- I just returned from Egypt and Tunisia and got briefed of on the Libyan situation. It's becoming failed states, safe havens over there, that we're not properly dealing with. Until we attack them in their safe havens, we cannot stop their external operations capabilities.
McCaul has not yet endorsed Trump, calling his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States "unconstitutional” and his plan to make Mexico pay for a giant border wall "simplistic" and "knee-jerk." But Trump is now at the top of the party's ticket, and for better or worse, he is setting the agenda for which other Republicans are having to answer. And so far, his most notable proposal for stopping terrorism in the United States is a blanket ban on Muslims entering the country.
Trump has also said he would "knock the hell" out of the so-called Islamic State if elected president and has promised "to take out” the families of terrorists. He later clarified that he didn't say he would kill the civilians but would simply "go after them” -- leaving most observers confused on what that would entail.
Trump has said that part of the reason he is offering so few specifics on how he would fight terrorism is because he doesn't want certain entities "to know what I’m thinking."
"That's the problem with our country," he told The New York Times in March. "A politician would say, 'Oh I would never go to war,' or they'd say, 'Oh I would go to war.' I don’t want to say what I'd do because, again, we need unpredictability. You know, if I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I've said I would or I wouldn't."
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist