AWKWARD: Republican congressman mistakes State Dept. officials for foreigners

Freshman Rep. Curt Clawson (R) was probably just trying to be nice on Friday when he welcomed two guests to a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


Foreign Policy magazine reported that Clawson smiled warmly as he greeted Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar and expressed his sincere love for their country.

Trouble is, both Biswal and Kumar are U.S. citizens and senior employees at the State Department and had been introduced as such right before Clawson spoke.

"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."

"Apparently confused by their Indian surnames and skin color," said Foreign Policy's John Hudson, "Clawson also asked if 'their' government could loosen restrictions on U.S. capital investments in India."

"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 continued. "I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?"

Biswal and Kumar just looked at him like this:

Bismal and Kumar at July 25 hearing

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

Watch video of Clawson's remarks, embedded below:

Freshman Congressman Mistakes Senior Government Officials for Foreigners from Foreign Policy on Vimeo.