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Donnelly says he ‘misspoke’ when discussing minority staffers

Indiana Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty MORE (D) said Wednesday that he "misspoke" while discussing minority employees on his staff during a debate Tuesday night.

“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," Donnelly said during the debate with Republican challenger Mike Braun.

Donnelly was criticized for suggesting that those staff members succeeded despite their race. 

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Donnelly told The Washington Post and CNN in statements Wednesday that he meant to use the word "and" instead of "but."

"I misspoke. 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," he said.

Donnelly didn't immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

Donnelly has also come under fire by his opponents for saying during the debate that he would be open to legislation ending birthright citizenship.

The incumbent senator, one of ten Senate Democrats up for reelection in states that President TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE won in 2016, is considered vulnerable in next week's midterm. The Cook Political Report rates the race between him and Braun as a toss-up.