Bush Fails Quiz on Foreign Affairs
By Glen Johnson
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Nov. 4, 1999; 6:10 p.m. EST WASHINGTON Texas Gov. George W. Bush was hit with a surprise quiz on foreign affairs and scored only 25 percent.
The Republican presidential front-runner sat down Wednesday with WHDH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Boston, and was asked to name the leaders of four current world hot spots: Chechnya, Taiwan, India and Pakistan.
He was able to give a partial response to just one: Taiwan.
That drew immediate criticism from the camp of Democrat Al Gore, which said the vice president could have answered all four correctly.
"I guess we know that 'C' at Yale was a gentleman's 'C,'" said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane, referring to the way Bush has described his academic record.
The Bush campaign brushed off the incident.
"The person who is running for president is seeking to be the leader of the free world, not a Jeopardy contestant," said Karen Hughes, Bush communications director.
"I would venture to guess that 99.9 percent of most Americans and probably most candidates could not answer who is the president of Chechnya," Hughes added.
The questions were put to Bush by political reporter Andy Hiller during a break in Bush's campaigning in New Hampshire. Hiller is known locally for asking sassy questions of political leaders.
Hiller asked: "Can you name the president of Chechnya?"
"No, can you?" Bush replied.
"Can you name the president of Taiwan?" Hiller asked.
"Yeah, Lee,'" responded Bush, referring to Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui.
"Can you name the general who is in charge of Pakistan?" asked Hiller, inquiring about Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, who took over last month in a military coup.
"Wait, wait, is this 50 questions?" replied Bush.
Hiller replied: "No, it's four questions of four leaders in four hot spots."
Bush said: "The new Pakistani general, he's just been elected not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country and I think that's good news for the subcontinent."
Hiller persisted, saying "Can you name him?"
Bush said: "General. I can name the general. General."
"And the prime minister of India?" asked Hiller, inquiring about a man who was recently re-elected and who last year tested a nuclear bomb.
Bush said: "The new prime minister of India is no."
At that point, Bush responded in kind to Hiller.
"Can you name the foreign minister of Mexico?" asked the governor, whose home state borders the Central American nation.
The reporter replied, "No sir, but I would say to that, I'm not running for president."
Bush said: "What I'm suggesting to you is, if you can't name the foreign minister of Mexico, therefore, you know, you're not capable about what you do. But the truth of the matter is you are, whether you can or not."
For the record, the president in Chechnya, the Russian breakaway republic and scene of recent fighting, is Aslan Maskhadov.
The prime minister of India is Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press