Curt Clawson, congressman from Fla., mistakes U.S. officials for Indian diplomats

Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) addresses what he believes Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) addresses what he believes are members of the Indian government at a House hearing on July 24, 2014. Photo Credit: Vimeo / Foreign Policy

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A freshman congressman’s minute-long speech may be one of the most embarrassing in Capitol Hill history. 

Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) spoke directly to two U.S. government officials during a congressional hearing on Thursday, explaining his familiarity with their country – which he mistakenly believed was India.

Clawson continued speaking about his hopes for the future of India while Nisha Biswal, State Department assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs, and Arun Kumar, who holds multiple titles in the Department of Commerce, stared in disbelief. 

“I am familiar with your country. I love your country,” the congressman continued, addressing the Indian-Americans. “I’m hopeful with the new change in regime that the future and the land of promise and the land of opportunity of India can finally become so.” 

After Clawson praised the country and its people, he asked the high-ranking U.S. officials for cooperation from the “Indian” government.

“Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcomed there,” he said. "Can I have that?"

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There was a moment of silence before Biswal answered.

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

Then Clawson realized his mistake and attempted to backtrack by clarifying that he was just asking for their opinion on the issues. But it was too late.

A video uploaded to Vimeo by Foreign Policy on Friday of the congressman's speech has been viewed more than 575,000 times.

According to USA Today, the politician has since apologized.

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“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 told the newspaper.

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