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Trump Reveals Lack of Knowledge on Foreign Policy

  • Mike Richman

U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a press availability after signing a pledge with the Republican National Committee (RNC) at Trump Tower in New York, Sept. 3, 2015.

U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a press availability after signing a pledge with the Republican National Committee (RNC) at Trump Tower in New York, Sept. 3, 2015.

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump stumbled on a few international affairs issues and grew impatient over questions about foreign leaders during a telephone interview.

Speaking to Hugh Hewitt, a popular conservative radio host, Trump appeared to mistake Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Quds Forces for the Kurds, a Middle Eastern ethnic group.

Hewitt asked Trump if he is familiar with General Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force. Trump responded by saying the Kurds have been "horribly mistreated." Hewitt interrupted by saying that he was referring to the Quds, not the Kurds. Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul, said he thought Hewitt had mentioned the "Kurds."

Not interested in 'gotcha'

Hewitt later said he was not interested in "gotcha" questions.

The radio show host also told Trump that on the issue of Islamic terrorism, he is looking for the next U.S. president 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?" Hewitt asked.

Trump said he did not know who any of those people are.

Nasrallah is the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah; Ayman al-Zawahiri is the head of al-Qaida following the death of Osama bin Laden; Abu Muhammad al-Julani is the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate fighting in Syria; Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the head of the Islamic State group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Trump later promised to become an authority on the names of foreign leaders if he is elected president. "I will be so good at the military your head will spin," Trump told Hewitt.

Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive and Republican U.S. presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks during the Freedom Summit in Greenville, South Carolina, May 9, 2015.

Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive and Republican U.S. presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks during the Freedom Summit in Greenville, South Carolina, May 9, 2015.

Confident Carly Fiorina

On the same program, Hewitt interviewed the other business leader-turned candidate in the race for the Republican nomination, Carly Fiorina. He posed similar questions to Fiorina, who sounded much more confident than Trump as she discussed the Quds force among other topics.

Asked if she knew the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said, "Hamas is focused in Palestinian territories. Hezbollah focuses in Beirut and other places, but the truth is, both of them are proxies of Iran."

Fiorina, like Trump, has never been elected to office.

Hewitt is also scheduled to ask questions at the second Republican presidential debate later this month.

Trump's improving image

Any limited knowledge of foreign affairs is not stopping Trump from improving his image, however. New Gallup daily tracking numbers show that his net favorable rating among Republicans increased significantly over the last two weeks, putting him among the top six Republican candidates in the category.

Presidential candidate poll, Quinnipiac

Presidential candidate poll, Quinnipiac

According to Gallup, Trump gained 16 points in net favorability in the last two weeks to stand at 32 percent. He now joins Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as having posted the largest gains in favorability numbers since mid-July.

This represents a major turnaround for Trump, who was viewed unfavorably in much larger numbers by the American public after launching his campaign in June.

The Gallup tracking numbers show Carson with the highest net favorability rating as of the two-week period ending on September 1 at 51 percent, followed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio (42), Texas Senator Ted Cruz (41), former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (38), Fiorina (37) and Trump (32).

Among those whose images worsened are Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

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