Rookie Congressman Makes Big Gaffe at Hearing

Florida's Curt Clawson speaks to US officials as if they were foreigners

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 26, 2014 9:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – A newly elected congressman is making his first national headlines for all the wrong reasons. In a gaffe spotted by Foreign Policy, Florida Republican Curt Clawson spoke to two US officials testifying before a House panel as if they were foreigners. "I'm familiar with your country; I love your country," Clawson told Nisha Biswal of the State Department and Arun Kumar of the Commerce Department. "Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I'm willing and enthusiastic about doing so." At one point, he requests cooperation from "your government," and, after a few seconds of silence, Biswal makes a diplomatic save: "I think your question is to the Indian government," she said. "We certainly share your sentiment, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the US."

It's not clear whether Clawson—a Tea Party favorite who was elected last month to replace Trey Radel of cocaine infamy—realized his mistake at that point. "Of course," he said with a smile. "OK, let's see some progress." Some reaction:

  • Marc Caputo, Miami Herald: "They don't call us Flori-duh for nothing."
  • Phillip Bump, Washington Post: "One of the most awkward exchanges you will ever see, inside or outside the Capitol."
  • Scott Martelle, LA Times: His post on the "cringe-worthy" video is headlined, "How not to start your congressional career."

Curt Clawson speaks at an election party June 24 in Bonita Springs, Fla.
Curt Clawson speaks at an election party June 24 in Bonita Springs, Fla.   (AP Photo/The News-Press, Amanda Inscore)
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Rep. Curt Clawson's moment in the spotlight.   (Foreign Policy)

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