They say that what you don't know can't hurt you — and that's probably never been more true for anyone ever than it is for Donald Trump, the loud, outspoken real estate tycoon running for president. After big wins in early primary states and on Super Tuesday, Trump has nearly 100 more delegates tied to his name than his closest competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. At the same time, Trump doesn't know some pretty basic things about life, society, and the country he's asking to run.
It's not that Americans expect their president to be omniscient. POTUS has always a team of expert advisers and a cabinet to keep him on track and two other branches of government to stop him when he's gone awry. What voters should expect, though, is someone who is willing and able to answer the tough questions that are thrown at him or her. That's where things get a little fuzzy with Trump. He claims to know all the right people to make all the right deals for the country, but he also uses the line, "I don't know," regularly when he's tested on things that both relate and do not relate to the presidential race.
1. David Duke & White Supremacy
Most recently, Trump on Sunday claimed that he didn't know about a reported endorsement from the notorious white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan. Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump refused to condemn the group and its former leader David Duke. Rather, Trump tried to play the whole thing off by feigning ignorant.
I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.
In reality, Trump should have known that this question was coming, and he definitely had to have known about the situation. Just days before that, Trump came face-to-face with an audience member wearing a "KKK endorses Trump" shirt at one of his rallies. He even called attention to the audience member by having him escorted from the event.
2. Rubio's Eligibility To Run
Trump is known for his active Twitter presence, but he doesn't seem quite willing to answer for it. Earlier in February, Trump retweeted someone who claimed that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is not eligible to serve as president because he is not a natural born citizen. (For the record, Rubio is overwhelmingly considered eligible, and it's really a non-issue.) When asked about his retweet and whether or not he actually believes the statement that it made, Trump told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, "I really don't know." If you're wondering why he retweeted something that he's unsure about, you're not alone.
3. Why He Supported The Iraq War
Also in February (yes, that's right: Trump has used the IDK line on national television at least three times in one month), Trump had no way to explain his previous support of the Iraq War. NBC's Chuck Todd asked Trump about the support he expressed some 14 years ago, as the war was becoming a possibility. Unfortunately, Trump didn't have an answer for him.
I really don't even know what I mean because that was a long time ago and who knows what was in my head.
Yes, it was a long time ago. OK, perhaps the Iraq War is a moot point for today's voters. But shouldn't the person who wants to be commander in chief have an answer when he's asked about supporting a war?
4. Anything About President Obama
As a member of the opposing political party, it's no surprise that Trump has challenged President Obama once or twice. What's unfortunate, though, is that Trump has used those challenges in what seem like attempts to imply that Obama isn't trustworthy or has an ulterior motive. "I don't know," Trump said when asked if he thought that Obama was born in the U.S. "I don't know why he wouldn't release his records." Following the recent shooting in San Bernardino, California, which as been attributed to sympathizers of extremist Muslim groups, Trump implied that Obama was hiding something else:
Radical Islamic terrorism: We have a president who refuses to use the term. Refuses to say it. There is something going on with him that we don't know about.
5. Samuel L. Jackson
In January, Trump claimed that he didn't know Samuel L. Jackson, after Jackson told United Airlines' Hemispheres magazine that Trump cheats in golf. Trump tweeted that "to the best of my knowledge haven't played golf with him & think he does too many TV commercials." The thing is, Trump has definitely played golf with Jackson.
6. Foreign Policy
Back in September, Trump claimed he didn't need to know about certain aspects of foreign policy because the key players would be different by the time he's president. In the same interview, he claimed that questions about Hezbollah, an extremist militant group in Lebanon, and Hamas, a Palestinian group that claims ownership over the Gaza Strip, were "gotcha" questions. Here's his reasoning:
I think it's ridiculous. I'm a delegator. I find great people. I find absolutely great people, and I'll find them in our armed services, and I find absolutely great people.
7. Serge Kovaleski
Remember that time Trump seemed to mock a New York Times reporter with an obvious physical disability? Trump claimed after the public outcry that he didn't know Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a congenital condition that affects the joints in his wrists and hands. "I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovalski [sic] is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence," Trump said. Meanwhile, Kovaleski countered that he and the candidate were on a first-name basis "for years."
8. Asking For Forgiveness
In July, Trump spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper about his faith. Trump is officially a Christian, and he has previously alluded to — or outright talked about — his beliefs at conservative campaign rallies, such as an appearance at Virginia's Liberty University. In the interview with CNN, Trump seemed confused about the idea of asking for forgiveness.
Why do I have to repent? Why do I have to ask for forgiveness if you're not making mistakes?
Everyone is entitled to his or her own religious beliefs, but Trump's failure to admit that he makes mistakes seems to go against most Christian teachings.
9. Paul Ryan
On Tuesday, Trump gave House Speaker Paul Ryan an ultimatum: Get along with me or "pay a big price." That's not usually how politicians of the same party speak to or about each other publicly. Then again, another part of Trump's statement could give some indication as to why there's some tension there. Trump admitted that he doesn't know Ryan well, which seems like an unusual dynamic for the top Republican in Congress and the top Republican in the presidential race.
Can you fault Trump for not knowing the speaker of the House of Representatives personally? Probably not. Can you fault a presidential candidate for using "I don't know" as an excuse to avoid questions? I'd argue that you can.