WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says that if elected he would work to improve the “horrible” international agreement with Iran to rein in that country’s nuclear arms program.
“I do like to buy bad contracts,” the billionaire real estate mogul said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, explaining why he believes he is qualified to renegotiate the deal, which involved not only representatives of the U.S. but also of Germany, Britain,France, Russia and China.
Trump repeated his charge that the deal was “negotiated by totally incompetent people.”
The unpredictable celebrity businessman is still considered a longshot White House candidate, but to the dismay of Republican leaders he has emerged as the overwhelming front-runner in the party’s crowded field of candidates, despite repeatedly insulting key constituencies and offering few details about his policies. The reality television star has described Mexican immigrants as rapists, questioned Sen. John McCain’s war hero status and insulted a popular TV news host.
Trump’s staying power atop early polls in the Republican presidential contest has increasingly put him in conventional candidate situations, including being asked about his approach to foreign policy.
Trump bristled Thursday when a conservative radio host asked him about a variety of overseas issues. He accused Hugh Hewitt of asking “gotcha questions” when the host quizzed him on the names of top leaders of Islamist terrorism. Trump angrily stumbled through his retort before landing on braggadocio.
“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 said.
The tense interaction with Hewitt could set up the next Republican debate as a sort of sequel to the first: Hewitt is one of its moderators. At the August debate, Trump rumbled with popular Fox News host Megyn Kelly, whom he has repeatedly accused of asking unfair questions of him.
At the beginning of Thursday’s Hewitt interview, Trump appeared to confuse the Iranian Revolutionary Quds Forces with the Kurds, a Middle Eastern ethnic group. And he also could not explain the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah.
Later Thursday, Hewitt asked another Republican candidate, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, the same kinds of questions, assuring listeners he hadn’t shared them with her ahead of time.
“Do you know that difference between Hamas and Hezbollah?” Hewitt asked her.
“Yes. I do,” she replied. “And of course, Hamas is focused in Palestinian territories. Hezbollah focuses in Beirut and other places, but the truth is, both of them are proxies of Iran. Both of them threaten Israel.”
On Thursday, Trump ruled out the prospect of a third-party White House bid and vowed to support whoever wins the Republican party’s nomination. A third-party bid by Trump, or any prominent conservative, could doom Republican efforts in 2016 by splitting the Republican vote.
Republican leaders had been trying to avert the possibility of an independent campaign by Trump ever since last month’s opening debate, when he roiled the race by refusing to promise to back the party’s eventual nominee.