From the August 24 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
RACHEL MADDOW (HOST): From the Ohio speech, the terrorism speech, which I thought was just a fascinating turn, and it was on this issue of extreme vetting. What he's describing as extreme vetting for people who want to immigrate to this country. And what he said was, “in the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.” What is that about? What's the Cold War precedent for this extreme vetting that he's talking about?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: He's basically saying, this is not the first time the country has done this, or that it's been done. That we've done this before, but for some reason, we've become lax.
MADDOW: When did we do it before?
CONWAY: Well he's just saying, there's a Cold War precedent.
MADDOW: But what is the Cold War precedent?
CONWAY: For vetting. And he is saying that in this case, it's that we -- past is not necessarily prologue, but that when you're talking about vetting, people shouldn't comment like, oh my god, that's a new situation. What if we did vet people based on their ties to terrorism, if we did that a little bit better? Is anybody arguing that we're not letting people in the country right now who do have ties to terrorists?
MADDOW: The Cold War precedent for what he's talking about was an ideological vetting. He's saying that we want ideological vetting of people. That did exist in the Cold War, in the early '50s, it was called the McCarran Act which I'm sure you know. And Truman vetoed and then Congress was able to pass it some other way. But what survived very famously was thrown out by the United States Supreme Court because it was ruled to be unconstitutional. So there is a Cold War precedent for ideological vetting of immigrants. In that case, it was to stop communist front groups. But it didn't pass constitutional muster, and we've never had anything like that since that ever has passed constitutional muster. So what he's asking for is a new extreme vetting system, which has previously been tried and ruled unconstitutional and we abandoned it half a century ago.
You can't have a McCarran Act now, it's unconstitutional.
CONWAY: But that's my point too. People can look at it and say, this is ridiculous, that's unconstitutional, you can't have that. Or they can say, that may work, and I'd like to hear more about it.