Trump has delivered a major foreign policy speech amid concern he lacks the experience or tact to run the world's most powerful nation. A major pillar of his foreign policy beliefs was putting America first.
In a major foreign policy speech, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed to put American interests first, saying the US goal would be "peace and prosperity, not war and destruction."
"America first will be the major and overriding theme of my administration," Trump told a small crowd of Washington's conservative foreign policy elite, even as he vowed to bring in new people to replace a "rusty" foreign policy establishment.
His core message was that only a prosperous country could exert itself on the foreign stage - and the United States has many problems at home.
As the real estate mogul moves closer to securing the Republican nomination, he is seeking to burnish his foreign policy credentials beyond the campaign trail, where erratic comments have garnered criticism from foreign policy circles.
Trump devoted much time to criticizing President Barack Obama for running a foreign policy with "no vision" and "no purpose" that has led allies to lose confidence and adversaries to no longer respect the United States.
But he also reserved criticism for the hawkish branch of his own party for replacing logic "with foolishness and arrogance which led to one foreign policy disaster after another," citing the war in Iraq as a prime example.
Middle East stability
In the Middle East, Trump said his priority would be defeating radical Islam and promoting regional stability, not promoting failed democracy and regime change projects.
"We've made the Middle East more unstable and chaotic than ever before," Trump said.
Defeating the self-declared "Islamic State" by working with allies in the Muslim world would be a key pillar of his strategy, he said. But he also warned that allies "have to be good to us" and the US would be only "generous to those who prove they are indeed are friends."
Repeating comments he has made on the stump, Trump said US allies in Europe and Asia must also foot the bill for defense instead of free riding on the US. "These allies must be wiling to pay their part or we must be willing let them defend themselves," he said.
Those comments have stirred controversy in Europe and Asia.
Upon taking office, he said he would convene summits with NATO and Asian allies to discuss not only financial contributions, but also a restructuring of priorities away from Cold War era concepts, to new areas like migration and fighting terrorism.
With US-Russia tensions high over Syria, Ukraine and a host of other issues, Trump said he would move away from an aggressive stance against Moscow and be able to mend fences with the Kremlin based on mutual interests.
Continuing a key platform of his campaign, Trump said he was skeptical of globalization and the erosion of the nation state, especially trade deals.
Sanders focuses on California
After losing four of five states to Hillary Clinton in primary voting on Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday that he plans to lay off hundreds of campaign workers nationwide. Sanders now intends to focus his efforts on winning in California on June 7.
In an interview with the New York Times, Sanders said that despite this week's losses, he planned on remaining in the race.
"We want to win as many delegates as we can, so we do not need workers now in states around the country," the US paper quoted him as saying.
Change in strategy
With the Republican Indiana primary now less than a week away, Trump rival Ted Cruz has also revamped his strategy, bringing former presidential competitor Carly Fiorina on board as his prospective vice president.
Trump slammed Cruz's announcement, branding it a "pure waste of time" and "a desperate attempt to save a failing campaign."
After losing five states to Trump on Tuesday, Cruz faces a tough struggle to secure the nomination, as Trump already has 77 percent of the delegates he needs to become the Republican candidate.