Trump angered by detailed foreign policy questions during interview

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump Image copyright AP

A sit-down with popular conservative radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt has become a rite of passage for Republican presidential hopefuls. In fact, he's interviewed candidates at least 70 times so far this year.

Hewitt takes pride in asking guests questions on foreign policy and defence issues. Although the atmosphere is generally good-natured, the specificity of his inquiries can expose gaps in a candidate's knowledge.

Republican presidential nomination front-runner Donald Trump either didn't know this - or didn't care. And the foreign-policy gaps on display during his talk with Hewitt on Thursday often appeared more like chasms.

After the interview Mr Trump went on the attack - as he often does with those he feels have slighted him. He said Hewitt is a "third-rate announcer" who tried to catch him with "gotcha questions".

He reportedly threatened to never do any more interviews with Hewitt. That doesn't mean he won't see the radio host again, however. Hewitt is set to ask questions at the next Republican presidential debate, on 16 September.

Here are some of Mr Trump's more notable comments during Thursday's interview.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption "Soleimani (above) is to terrorism sort of what Trump is to real estate," Hewitt said.

Quds and Kurds

Hewitt opened the interview with a question about General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds Force, which has been linked to covert actions abroad.

Mr Trump apparently misheard Hewitt and launched into a discussion of the Kurds in Iraq.

When Hewitt corrected Mr Trump and told him the Quds Force "is the bad guys", he replied: "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you said Kurds, because I think the Kurds have been poorly treated by us."

"Soleimani is to terrorism sort of what Trump is to real estate," Hewitt said.

"Is he the gentleman that was going back and forth with Russia and meeting with Putin?" Mr Trump asked. "I read something, and that seems to be also where he's at."

"Not good for us," Mr Trump concluded.

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Image caption Al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri (left) Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the so-called Islamic State

Players without a scorecard

From there Hewitt rattled off a list of Mid-East figures - Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Muhammed al-Julani of al-Nusra Front and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the so-called Islamic State. "Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?" Hewitt asked.

"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," the real estate mogul responded.

He added that the names change so often, such questions are like "history lessons".

"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," he concluded.

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Image caption US allies have expressed concern about the growing power of the Chinese Navy

A Chinese attack

Hewitt went on to ask about China, for which he posed a hypothetical. What would President Trump do, he asked, if the Chinese military were to "accidentally or intentionally sink a Filipino or Japanese ship"?

Mr Trump said that one of his strengths was his unpredictability, so he wasn't going to tip his hand.

"You don't want to let people know what you're going to do with respect to certain things that happen," he said. "If I win, and I'm leading in every single poll, if I win, I don't want people to know exactly what I'm going to be doing."

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Image caption A Coast Guard pilot surveys the flooding after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2006

Fires in big buildings

Not every question during the interview was about foreign policy. Hewitt touched on gun rights, Mr Trump's health, his divorce record and how, as chief executive, he would handle disasters.

On that last topic, the New York billionaire gave no ground.

"I've responded very much to disasters," he said. "I've had, you know, fires in buildings, big buildings."

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Image caption A Hezbollah fighter (left) and a Hamas fighter

Hezbollah vs Hamas

Toward the end of the interview, Hewitt returned again to the Mid-East and Mr Trump's obvious chaffing at the detailed nature of the questioning.

"So the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas does not matter to you yet, but it will?" Hewitt asked.

"It will when it's appropriate," Mr Trump replied. "I will know more about it than you know, and believe me, it won't take me long. I will know far more than you know within 24 hours after I get the job."

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