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Florida Rep. Curt Clawson thinks U.S. officials are from India

Everybody makes mistakes—just not this mistake.


Eric Geller


Posted on Jul 25, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 9:33 pm CDT

Florida Congressman Curtis Clawson is probably not having a great day. The Republican from the Sunshine State’s 19th congressional district mistakenly assumed that a group of U.S. government employees were Indian government officials on a diplomatic visit to Washington.

“I am familiar with your 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 in one,” Clawson said to Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, officials from the State and Commerce departments, respectively.

Clawson’s flub was made during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on Thursday. Foreign Policy published video of the cringe-worthy exchange, which ends with Biswal telling Clawson, “I think your question is to the Indian government.”

Clawson does not have an official Twitter account, and he did not respond to Foreign Policy’s requests for comment.

When it was his turn to talk, Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) quickly drove home the point that Biswal and Kumar worked for the U.S. government, telling them, “Thank you both for your service to our country, it’s very much appreciated.”

Reactions to Clawson’s awkward mistake were predictably biting:

The four languages Curt Clawson knows: 1. English 2. American 3. Country 4. Western

— Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) July 25, 2014

Imagining Rep. Curt Clawson questioning Jack Lew: “I have been to your Western Wall. It is a very big wall.”

— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) July 25, 2014

I’m not saying it’s your fault Curt Clawson misidentified you, but you really should have been white and this wouldn’t have happened

— Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (@FracturCritical) July 25, 2014

And here’s the kicker:

Rep. Curtis Clawson has an MBA from Harvard.

— Niraj Chokshi (@NirajC) July 25, 2014

Screenshot via Foreign Policy/Vimeo

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*First Published: Jul 25, 2014, 6:48 pm CDT