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GOP Candidates Jump on Trump Misstep

Donald Trump’s GOP opponents sought to gain some advantage from his uncertain performance during an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, while Trump himself reacted sharply to what he said were “gotcha questions” designed to trip him up.

Appearing on Hewitt’s show on Thursday, the real estate mogul seemed unfamiliar with some intricacies of the Middle East.

“On the front of Islamist terrorism, I’m looking for the next commander-in-chief to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani and al-Baghdadi,” Hewitt said. “Do you know the players without a scorecard yet, Donald Trump?”

Trump did not appear to know, and he seemed only vaguely familiar with General Soleimani, the leader of the Quds forces. And he either misheard Hewitt or mixed up the Quds with the Kurds.

“Well, that is a gotcha question, though,” Trump said to Hewitt at one point in the interview. “I mean, you know, when you’re asking me about who’s running this, that’s not, that is not — I will be so good at the military, your head will spin.”

“I don’t think they’re ‘gotcha questions’ at all,” said Carly Fiorina, who also appeared with Hewitt Thursday and faced similar questions. “The questions you’re asking are at the heart of the threat that we face, that our ally, Israel, faces, that the world faces.”

Fiorina got a little more help from Hewitt, who named the leaders as terrorists before asking if she could ID “most of these without a scorecard.”

Jeb Bush tried Friday to have some fun at Trump’s expense. “I’m sure he’ll get better,” Bush deadpanned to reporters. He echoed Fiorina’s contention that the questions posed were relevant. “This is not a flippant thing. This is a serious deal,” he said.

Sen. Marco Rubio called the exchange “very concerning.”

But Sen. Rand Paul offered Trump some support.

“I also do think that running through a list of every different Arabic name and asking somebody to respond to them is maybe a little bit of a game of ‘gotcha,'” Paul said.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Friday, Trump let Hewitt have it.

“I thought he said Kurds, this third-rate radio announcer that I did the show — it was like, Got you, got you — every question was do I know this one and that one? It was like he worked hard on that. But I thought he said Kurds,” Trump said.

The issue of “gotcha questions” has been controversial since 2008 when Katie Couric, then the anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” asked Sarah Palin what newspapers and magazines she read and didn’t get a specific answer.

Hewitt, who maintains the questions were not of the “gotcha” variety, will be on the panel asking questions of the candidates during CNN’s Republican debate on September 16.

Hewitt told Politico on Friday he would not change his preparation for this month’s debate and said he has treated all of the Republican candidates the same on his show.

“They all get tough questions with some overlap and some new ones each time,” he told Politico.

Appearing on “The Laura Ingraham Show” Friday, conservative political analyst Byron York said Trump probably needed to bone up on some details. “It would be a good idea to know a little bit about the Quds Force,” York said.

Ingraham agreed. “He’s got to learn some of this stuff. He’s got to study up on this, there’s no doubt about it,” she said.

But York noted that the controversy likely wouldn’t subtract from Trump’s support.

“My sense is it’s not going to hurt at all with the people who support Trump, because they do look at it as a gotcha question.”

This article first appeared on PoliZette.

48 Responses to GOP Candidates Jump on Trump Misstep

      • And he is priobably after me now–oh, well, I can use the publicity. The Know Nothing Party of the 1800s, by the way, was against Irish and other Catholic immigrants–members were were told to say they knew nothing about it when asked if they were members. The knowing nothing riff here got me to looking it up. It was also “Nativist American”–I notice the word nativist is being revived. Just interesting.

        • As has been pointed out elsewhere, the interview was a phone interview, not in person. So, both terms (Quds and Kurds) sound the same when you are listening by phone. (Give Trump a break.)

  1. Trump is a businessman, never before held office, with no previous need to know answers to foreign relations questions. Rather than calling them gotchas, he should have simply said he’s learning, reading every day and will get up to speed by the time he’s president.

    • He doesn’t have to know everything to get ‘up to speed’.
      He hires people that have that knowledge.
      For the MSM monkeys that are trying to catch him, where are their questions to Hillary Clinton about the debacle she created in the State Department ?

  2. With the media ganging up on Trump, I’m sure his numbers will rise. :)

    His supporters pretty much hate the media that keeps propping up Obama and Hillary dismal “foreign policy” and Black Lives Matters too.

    • Yep.
      Trump doesn’t care if he loses the election.
      I am convinced he loves the Country.
      Hell, he doesn’t need to do this, but I’m glad he is.

  3. The game is afoot.
    Everybody attack Trump.

    You may have picked a bad target.
    He will attack you right back.

    He got where he is through tenacity and determination.

    To quote a line from Star Wars,….
    “If you take me down it will only make me stronger.” Ben Kenobi.

    The news media is already on the skids as far as credibility and the blatant use of misguidance on certain issues.

    Liberal commentators lament the rise of someone that speaks his mind and dares to question the integrity of the MSM.

    The piling on of the other candidates is to expected.
    Stay away from demeaning his character.
    All of you have skeletons lurking in the closet just waiting to be exposed.
    And he’ll do it.

    Fair is fair right ?

    Trump is ringing true with the people because he is saying what we want to hear and have unable to say.

    Check that,…..we have been saying it for years to deaf politicians.
    Not deaf because of a physical malady, rather the insolence that renders them incapable of hearing their constituents mainly because the ways of Washington are above our understanding, so therefore, we are ignored.

    No more.

  4. RLimbaugh has an interesting take on this. I heard it on the radio and what I remembered was Reagan’s response which is quoted below. Link to the article, which is good imo.

    “So Reagan got questions like this. He was asked to name various obscure heads of state. Reagan’s answer was the best. Reagan said… I’m paraphrasing. He said, “It doesn’t matter if I know their names. They need to know mine,” and that shut it down. Trump saying, “It doesn’t matter. They’re not gonna be there by the time I get inaugurated, and even if they are, in 24 hours I’m gonna know more about these people.”

  5. When Sarah Palin made the same kind of misstep in 2008, she was gracious and modest, and the press destroyed her for “stupidity.” Trump always believes the best defense is really offensive, so he takes Hewitt’s head off for “gotcha” questions just because he doesn’t know the answer, and he gets away with it, mostly.

    • So Trump can’t be offensive to the offensive press minions ?
      The very fact that he is is what is endearing to the people that are sick of the press running the game.

      • I used to be the press. Keith is the press. Not all the press are idiots–so now the press is the enemy. How do you think we get these tidbits of info we love so much, the press digs them up, the press goes thru the emails, for example. My beef with “the press” at the moment is their me-too, repetitive, blah blah on the Trump phenomenon…I get it, people are mad and apparently, at least now, don’t care how this is expressed or the flaws and contradictions in the person riding the mad whirlwind.

  6. Hewitt says that he treats all Republican candidates the same when they come on his show–and they mostly have come on his show. I’ve been listening to his interviews with them for quite a while. In fact, he does NOT treat any of the candidates he’s interviewed so far the way he treated Trump. I wouldn’t say he slobbers over them, but he shows far more restraint and respect with the other candidates. He brags non-stop about his interviews with the candidates and reminds us 20 times each show that he will be one of the panelists on the upcoming “debate”. So my impressions is that Hugh Hewitt is plugging Hugh Hewitt, and the Trump affair is a perfect tool to show us how smart and clever Hewitt is. He’s a bag of hot air.

    We are in the storming stage of this campaign, so we can expect more of this kind of non-news. “Oh, so and so said this or that about you, how do you respond?” “So and so didn’t know the capital of Turkmenistan or where Vaiaku is located. How could he/she possibly be President?”

    We have all know the drill and have seen it many times. It’s an insult to the citizenry, but it’s pure advertising gold for the media. And that’s what this is all about.

    • Just for fun, here’s the Talker Magazine’s top ten radio hosts (by amount of listeners) in 2014:

      1. Rush Limbaugh
      2. Sean Hannity
      3. Dave Ramsey
      4. Michael Savage
      5. Glenn Beck
      6. Mark Levin
      7. Howard Stern
      8. Ed Schultz
      9. Joe Madison
      10.Thom Hartmann

      Note that Hewitt is not on the list and that Ed Schultz (of all people) IS on the list.

      • Speaking of the press. o did not take any questions from the local Press in Alaska. Traveled all the way there for is nature shots, but refused questions, and kept all of them on a different boat. This was not a vacation. The man works for us, and denied the press.

          • As a candidate, Barry was a two-bit State Senator who had spent little time doing anything in the U.S. Senate, except run for president. He was given a free ride – no one looked into his past…no one quizzed him endlessly.

            I’d rather have a candidate who may not know everything, but can learn…rather than one who no one in the press bothered to question what he actually knew or not!

  7. I know that there are a lot of Trump supporters on this site, but the guy is completely out of his league on the real issues. I like the idea of an “anti-politician” being in the race, but you have to be able to do more than beat your chest and say clever things about the other candidates. President of the US is a damn important job and we need someone with some depth.

    He will fade and someone will hopefully rise up and lead us out of the darkness of the Obama years.

    • “someone will hopefully rise up and lead us out of the darkness of the Obama years.”

      Keep dreaming and hoping, that should do the trick!

      What you just don’t get is that while you have been hoping, the GOP has been scheming and planning and choosing the next Republican nominee for you , Jeb Bush, with the help of nearly a dozen “candidates” to distract and split the delegates and walk Jeb’s sorry ass to the nomination. Trump blew up that plan, hopefully saving fools such as yourself from your clueless selves…

  8. Remember back in 1999, when George W. Bush got a similar pop quiz from a Boston reporter?

    Everyone was tut-tutting about how he only got one out of four right, and conservatives (correctly) screamed bloody murder over the journalistic ambush.

    And yet, here we are, sixteen years later, only this time it’s a red-on-red pop quiz.

    For the record, two of the four leaders Bush was asked to identify were from Chechnya and Taiwan–hot spots in 1999, to be sure, but more or less off the national security radar by the beginning of 2002.

    So, to call this a tempest in a teapot would be charitable: it’s more like a squall in a shot glass.

    For what it’s worth, Hewitt donated $1,000 to Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign in 2014. Seemed like a good idea at the time, right Hugh?

  9. Ronald Reagan got the same kind of question way back when. He replied that it didn’t matter so much that he didn’t know their names; what mattered was that they knew his.