"It was a legitimate misunderstanding," Trump said, blaming his comments about not knowing extremist leaders' names on the interviewer who had asked about them.
Standing before Hugh Hewitt, the interviewer and one of the moderators of tonight's debate, Trump said the problem wasn't that he didn't know the threatening figures -- it was that Hewitt couldn't properly pronounce them.
Hewitt chuckled and nodded.
Jake Tapper, the debate moderator, asked Trump the question because the billionaire presidential hopeful had told Hewitt he could not recognize key players like the top figures of the Islamic State group, the central al Qaeda leadership, Hezbollah and al Qaeda's branch in Syria "without a scorecard."
Trump told Hewitt he believed he had been asked "a gotcha question" and would learn individual actors' names by the time he reached the Oval Office if they were still influential by then. He didn't offer much else Wednesday, saying only that "the world's a mess" and he would be ready once to deal with it once he assumed the presidency.
The candidate's reference to "Arab names" made his response to Tapper even weaker. He was confusing one of the subjects Hewitt asked him about, Iran's Quds Force, with a group that is very assertive about not being Arab: the Kurds, U.S. partners who Trump couldn't compliment fast enough even though they were not relevant to Hewitt's question.
Read the latest updates on the GOP debate here.
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