(AP/Mary Schwalm)

Donald Trump humiliates himself on conservative radio: "That is a gotcha question! This is ridiculous!"

Hugh Hewitt, who will co-moderate the CNN debates, wore kid gloves, but Trump kept punching himself in the face


Scott Eric Kaufman
September 4, 2015 10:45PM (UTC)

Shortly after signing his worthless loyalty pledge to the Republican party on Thursday, Donald Trump joined conservative radio host -- and co-moderator of the upcoming CNN presidential debate -- Hugh Hewitt to discuss the state of his campaign.

Hewitt wanted to conclude the interview by asking Trump a few questions of the sort he can expect in the upcoming debate, and Trump was amenable -- at least, that is, until he realized that he didn't know how to answer any of the questions, because he fundamentally didn't know what they were about. For example, Hewitt asked him if he was familiar with General Soleimani, and Trump replied like any panicked student would, saying "Yes, but go ahead, give me a little, go ahead, tell me."

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Hewitt told him he runs the Quds Forces -- the Iranian equivalent of the Navy SEALs -- and Trump started talking about the Kurds. "No, not the Kurds, the Quds Forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Forces," Hewitt said.

"I thought you said Kurds," Trump replied, and tried to start talking about them again. Hewitt insisted he talk about the Quds, and an audibly annoyed Trump started speaking generally about "what's happening with Iran."

Hewitt allowed him to do so, but shortly thereafter asked him another specific question about the Middle East. "I’m looking for the next commander-in-chief, to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi. Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?" he asked.

Trump's reply was a magisterial defense of the virtues of his ignorance, worthy of quoting it in its entirety:

No, you know, I’ll tell you honestly, I think by the time we get to office, they’ll all be changed. They’ll be all gone. I knew you were going to ask me things like this, and there’s no reason, because number one, I’ll find, I will hopefully find General Douglas MacArthur in the pack. I will find whoever it is that I’ll find, and we’ll, but they’re all changing, Hugh. If, if they’re still there, which is unlikely in many cases, but if they’re still there, I will know them better than I know you.

Hewitt, taken aback, said "I don’t believe in gotcha questions -- and I’m not trying to quiz you on who the worst guy in the world is."

Trump was on a roll though, and replied that that was "a gotcha question, though. I mean, you know, when you’re asking me about who’s running this, this this, that’s not, that is not -- I will be so good at the military, your head will spin."

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As if that weren't enough empty bluster, Trump argued that he doesn't know who these figures are because he doesn't have personal relationships with them. "Obviously," he said, "I’m not meeting these people. I’m not seeing these people. Now it probably will be a lot of changes, Hugh, as you go along. They’ll be, by the time we get there, which is still a pretty long period of time, you know, you start, let’s say you figure out nominations, and who is going to represent the Republicans in, let’s say, February, March, April, you’ll start to get pretty good ideas, maybe sooner than that, actually. But that will be a whole new group of people."

Later in the interview, Hewitt insisted that these weren't "gotcha" questions, but Trump would have none of it. "It sounded like gotcha," he said. "You’re asking me names that, I think it’s somewhat ridiculous, but that’s OK."

Except it totally isn't "OK," as his response to Hewitt's closing question demonstrated. "I want to go back to the beginning," he said, "because I really do disagree with you on the gotcha question thing, Donald Trump. At the [CNN] debate, I may bring up Nasrallah being with Hezbollah, and al-Julani being with al-Nusra, and al-Masri being with Hamas. Do you think if I ask people to talk about those three things, and the differences, that that’s a gotcha question?"

"Yes, I do," Trump replied, oblivious to the fact that, essentially, the teacher was handing him the answer key in advance of the test. "I totally do. I think it’s ridiculous."

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Listen to the entire conversation below via the Hugh Hewitt Show.

Trump Had a Not-So-Great Radio Interview on Foreign Policy


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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