Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly Awkwardly Touts Diversity of Staff

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly speaks during a U.S. Senate Debate against Republican former state Rep. Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool)

During Indiana’s Senate debate Tuesday night, Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) used incredibly awkward phrasing to highlight the diversity of his staff, boasting that he has minority employees, “but” they do a great job.

“We want everybody to have a chance in Indiana, and in America. And my offices reflect that, both on the campaign side and on the Senate side,” said Donnelly. “Our state director is Indian American, but he does an amazing job. Our director of all constituent services, she’s African American. But she does an even more incredible job than you could ever imagine” — the implication being that despite their minority status, these folks still manage to do a good job.

He went on to say that he has always worked hard to give opportunities to minorities.

“It isn’t their race or their religion, it’s the incredible person that they are. But at the same time, they have to have a chance. They have to have an opportunity,” Donnelly said. “And that’s my responsibility, and I’ve done it in every office I’ve had, and I’ve done it every campaign I’ve had, because my campaigns and our Senate office should reflect the face of Indiana.”

Although the senator, to be fair, most likely meant to say “and” rather than “but,” his comments sparked waves of ridicule on social media. Donnelly in recent weeks has fallen behind in his race against his Republican challenger Mike Braun. The Real Clear Politics average has Braun now up +0.5 against the Democrat.