U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown on Wednesday addressed "innuendo and rumor" that caused an administrative inquiry into comments he made during the celebration of Peace Corps Samoa's 50th anniversary.
Brown and his wife Gail Huff discussed the July event during which someone took offense to being called "handsome."
"When we walked into the Peace Corps event, we walked in and there was a receiving line," Brown told the New Zealand news site Stuff. "I remember we had seen these kids prior to and they were all like dirty and grungy. Well, we walked in, and everyone was dressed to the nines. They all looked great. Gail looked great. You know, I was dressed up, and Gail and I both walked in and said, 'You guys are beautiful, you look really handsome, sir. You guys are great', and apparently somebody took offense to that."
"Gail and I did say it, absolutely," he added.
The other comment Brown addressed was when he told a member of the waitstaff they were doing a "great job" and "could make hundreds of dollars in the service industry" in the United States.
Brown did not realize at the time the comments were offensive, and has been told since by his staff that he is not the "Scott Brown from Rye, N.H. anymore." Brown said he has been made more aware of "cultural insensitivities," and said he is "always welcoming that kind of good advice."
"Sometimes when we say one thing, it means the complete different thing," Brown added.
The ambassador said when it comes down to it, the event was unfortunately "politics," and ultimately "it is what it is."
"Politics is a bloodsport, back home and at this event, there were a lot of people who didn't like the president. Sadly it's politics, and it is what it is."
Huff and Brown finished the interview with the ambassador ultimately saying he will "probably not" make comments of the same variety again. Huff added they are both going to be careful with how comments can be received abroad.
"The most important takeaway for both of us is that we're just going to be very, very careful about what we say and how it's perceived," Huff said.