Indiana lawmaker takes heat for touting minority staffers

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) 

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly from Indiana seems to have landed in thick soup over his comments on diversity. In a debate ahead of the Nov. 6 elections, he praised his minority staffers, including an Indian-American, but his phrasing seemed to suggest that they are competent despite their race. “We want everybody to have a chance in Indiana, and in America,” he said.

“And my offices reflect that, both on the campaign side and on the Senateside. Our state director is Indian-American, but he does an amazing job,” Donnelly said. “Ourdirector of all constituent services, she’s African-American. But she does an even moreincredible job than you could ever imagine.”

The next day he issued a statement acknowledgingthe blunder. “I misspoke,” he said. “I meant to say ‘and’ instead of ‘but.’ That would have communicated what I have tried to do my entire life: that I make a habit to seek out and promote people of color for both my campaign and official staff.” But the damage was done.

Donnelly is of course not the first one to make such a faux pas. Reports about his gaffe didn’t forget tomention Mitt Romney, then the 2012 Republican nominee for president, who awkwardly touted hisefforts to hire women by saying he had “binders full of women.”

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