Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said Friday he compiled a list earlier in the day of 58 countries to which he has traveled, joking that the media wants to "make sure you know how to pronounce them correctly."

Carson, whose numbers have fallen in recent GOP presidential polls after his missteps on foreign policy, has been the butt of jokes since his Thursday speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, when he repeatedly pronounced the name of militant Palestinian group Hamas as something closer to “hummus.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Trying to recover from questions about his national security knowledge, Carson told the right-leaning group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Friday he made the list for members of the media, who had asked for details of his claims that he had traveled overseas extensively.  

"I had to sit down and write all those countries out today because the press is saying 'we want to know exactly which countries you've been to ... and make sure you know how to pronounce them correctly.'"

In his speech before ALEC in Scottsdale, Ariz., he praised law enforcement in the wake of Wednesday's mass shooting in California and the overall role of police.

Carson, who is black, said he has not seen evidence of racial bias among law enforcement officials and has discouraged changing public policy based on "rotten apples."

On Friday, Carson said “I’m a big fan of the police,” adding that he watched videos of police responding to the San Bernardino shooting. “Those are the kind of police that I know.

“They’re putting their lives at risk in order to save us.” 

The FBI confirmed on Friday that the shooting, which left 14 dead, was being investigated as an act of terrorism.

There are “of course rotten apples” among police, he said, adding that there are also “a lot of those” in the media.