#awkward: Lawmaker mistakes U.S. officials for representatives of India
July 25th, 2014
06:52 PM ET
5 months ago

#awkward: Lawmaker mistakes U.S. officials for representatives of India

Updated 10:55 a.m. ET, 7/28/2014

(CNN) – Rep. Curt Clawson, a congressman for all of one month, made an embarrassing mistake this week when he confused two Obama administration officials with representatives from India.

At a Thursday hearing of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Clawson talked how much he admired the witnesses' country.

"I love your country, and I understand the complications of so many languages, and so many cultures and so many histories all rolled up into one," the Florida Republican said. Video of the exchange can be seen on the committee's website, at about 1 hour and 36 minutes, and again at 2 hours and 17 minutes.

Foreign Policy was the first to report the story.

"I made a mistake in speaking before being fully briefed and I apologize. I'm a quick study but in this case I shot an air ball," Clawson said in a statement released Friday.

It was clear Clawson didn't realize he was speaking to Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, two high-level officials at the State Department and Commerce Department, respectively.

It got worse.

"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," he said at a later point in the hearing. "I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?"

There was a pause.

As Kumar sat with a big grin, Biswal politely responded: "I, I, I think your question is to the Indian government, and we certainly share your sentiments and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S. government."

"OK," Clawson said, smiling. "Let's see some progress."

Late Friday night, Biswal tweeted about the incident, calling it an "honest mistake" on the part of Clawson.

"Honest mistake by new Member of Congress -but the strength & beauty of America is its diversity. Proud to represent my country & Prez Obama," she wrote.

He was elected last month to fill the seat vacated by Republican Trey Radel, who stepped down earlier this year after getting caught buying cocaine from a federal law enforcement agent.

A former CEO of a global manufacturing company, Clawson joined the Foreign Affairs Committee a couple of weeks ago.

Chairman Ed Royce, R-California, pointed to Clawson's "fluency in four languages and his time residing in six countries" as some of Clawson's top-shelf credentials in a press release announcing his new position.

CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Blame Me

    That's what happen if you are not working.

    July 25, 2014 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  2. rick

    Well. That should be a obvious wake up call. When there are SO MANY OF THEM OVER HERE you cant tell anymore!! And they are complaining about the south america invasion! Its NOT just from south of our borders.. This should if people are smart enough to see. Shows another problem in america. The flood of illegals from that country!!

    July 25, 2014 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    -very pathetic we are electing these idiots. They do not even know who they are speaking with. Get educated, USA. Get rid of all this junk.

    July 25, 2014 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  4. Smitty

    Does anyone in DC even think before they open their mouth??? Another politico embarrassment

    July 25, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. Thomas

    He's new , Florida is a big state .

    He was elected last month to fill the seat vacated by Republican Trey Radel, who stepped down earlier this year after getting caught buying cocaine from a federal law enforcement agent.

    July 25, 2014 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. B.

    This is definitely a absolute low point in this Congress and a national embarrassment.

    Where do these people come from and how do they manage to get into positions of responsibility?

    July 25, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  7. rse

    To think the GOP used to be the smart party. What a freak show it has become!

    July 25, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  8. Alan

    Approval rate for Russia is 19%, approval of Congress is at 14%.....who the hell are in the 24%? This guy confirms they keep electing fools!

    July 25, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  9. joe Smith

    Oh boy, we have another intellectual featherweight in Congress! Just what we need.

    July 25, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. Bigwilliestyles

    A drug addict replaced by an idiot. You just can't make this repub stuff up!

    July 25, 2014 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  11. loveme

    Idiot

    July 25, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  12. chrissy

    Proving once again that you dont need brains nor common sense to be a member of congress. Smh.

    July 25, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  13. neal may

    It does not matter what i say..this goofy ass says it all...tea anyone?

    July 26, 2014 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  14. Neo

    Move on ... nothing new here :p

    July 26, 2014 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  15. Marie MD

    Perfect example that the teaklans see people of color as "from another country" and NOT part of the US.
    It couldn't have happened to a bigger fool in a pool of hundreds who are leading this country backwards.

    July 26, 2014 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  16. Gurgul

    -I think USA needs to go to other markets than Indian market. USA needs to watch Indian market. They lose our dollar–not us. Look at WTO assail by Indian government. Do accordingly. If not India will be a headache.

    July 26, 2014 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    That's understandable. We have allowed our government to use legal immigration to bring into our country, only those from non-white countries. That is changing America, into something unrecognizable, in terms of our country, and its ideology.

    July 26, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. Bessy

    Oh well ! Mistakes happen ! He's learning who everybody is, although, I should think his staff would have told him who everybody was. He is probably embarrased and mad which is punishment enough.

    July 26, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. Dennis Freeman

    Typical.

    July 26, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  20. DRAKE MALLARD

    This isn't India! Where's the University of Notre Dame, the Indy 500, Wrigley Field, Dodger Dogs?!

    July 26, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. Hairy reed

    Marie MD

    Perfect example that the teaklans see people of color as "from another country" and NOT part of the US.
    It couldn't have happened to a bigger fool in a pool of hundreds who are leading this country backwards.
    ------------------
    Well, as the uhbama would say, just another 'typical white person.'

    July 26, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. Longtimer

    Rick McDaniel
    That's understandable. We have allowed our government to use legal immigration to bring into our country, only those from non-white countries. That is changing America, into something unrecognizable, in terms of our country, and its ideology.
    ________________
    You know Rick, it is idiocy like this Congressman, and your statement that proves conclusively that the Right is racist. Come on- you basically said: "They all look the same to me", and "My country is white".

    You, sir are an embarrassment to our nation- just as Clawson is.

    July 26, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. Matt Grant

    Holy s... Republicans are idiots. Cam Brady anyone?

    July 26, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. Thomas

    @Rick McDaniel
    That's understandable. We have allowed our government to use legal immigration to bring into our country, only those from non-white countries. That is changing America, into something unrecognizable, in terms of our country, and its ideology.
    ===========

    Why are the republicans selling off America to foreign investors ?

    July 26, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. anthony78

    @B.
    Where do these people come from and how do they manage to get into positions of responsibility?

    He's from Florida. He got his job by replacing the previous Republican who was caught buying cocaine.
    Dumb and dumber.

    July 26, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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