Congressman's major faux pas remembered as 'intensely awkward'

Florida Republican makes an embarrassing mistake in Capitol Hill


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Curt Clawson was elected less than a month ago. It was his first time at the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. And it showed. 

Clawson, of Fort Myers, met Nisha Desai Biswal and Arun Kumar. They were there to talk about the new prime minister of India. He assumed they were from India.

He used his time on the microphone to send a message to the Indian government. It was a mistake that a Foreign Policy reporter referred to as "intensely awkward."

"I'm familiar with your country; I love your country," Clawson said. "Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I'm willing and enthusiastic about doing so."

They were introduced as U.S. Officials. Biswal is Assistant Secretary in the State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs and Kumar is an official from the Department of Commerce.

Clawson wasn't paying attention. Foreign officials usually don't testify in front of Congress.

"Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I'd like our capital to be welcome there," Clawson said. "I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?"

Kumar was silent but appeared to want to laugh.

"I think your question is to the Indian government," Biswal said. "We certainly share your sentiment, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S."

Clawson said, "OK, let's see some progress."

Clawson later said he "shot an air ball." He released a statement.

"I made a mistake in speaking before being fully briefed and I apologize," Clawson said.

Foreign Policy shared the clip below on Vimeo.


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