September 15th, 2009
05:30 AM ET
5 years ago

Wilson supporters to House Democrats: Bring it on

Wilson used a Web video last week to raise money after being criticized by Democrats.
Wilson used a Web video last week to raise money after being criticized by Democrats.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – As House Democrats march forward with plans to formally reprimand Republican Joe Wilson for calling President Obama a liar during last week's joint address to Congress, Wilson's supporters back home in South Carolina have a straightforward response: Bring it on.

"I hope they do it," said Rich Bolen, who chairs the Republican Party in Lexington County, where Wilson lives. "The longer this story stays alive, the better it is for the conservative point of view. It means the Democrats aren't talking about health care and moving the ball forward. They're giving Wilson a ton of traction."

After Wilson rejected calls from Democrats to apologize on the floor of the House for his outburst, House leadership moved ahead with plans to vote Tuesday on a "resolution of disapproval" against the congressman.

But Wilson's supporters in South Carolina are hardly running from the resolution - they're embracing it.

GOP campaign operatives in the state argue that the vote will give Wilson yet another chance to raise money and rally party activists ahead of next year's election in the conservative-leaning 2nd Congressional District, which hasn't voted for a Democrat in 46 years.

Other politicians in the state are already sensing a chance to appeal to the Republican base by coming to Wilson's defense. South Carolina Rep. Gresham Barrett, who is running for governor next year and faces a crowded Republican primary, sent a letter to President Obama late Monday asking him to prevent House Democrats from taking action on Wilson.

"If the national Democrats want to make Joe Wilson a focal point, I can't imagine them doing a bigger favor for Joe Wilson," noted Richard Quinn, Wilson's Columbia-based political consultant. Quinn said if Tuesday's vote is successful, it will turn Wilson into "a martyr."

Both Wilson and his Democratic challenger Rob Miller have raised more than $1 million since the normally reserved congressman shouted "You lie!" at the president last Wednesday - a cash bonanza that will have both candidates on the airwaves and in mailboxes late into next year's campaign.

But several South Carolina Republicans said Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic allies in Congress are keeping the issue alive at their own expense, and at the expense of Miller, who isn't likely to embrace the polarizing House Speaker next year while running for Congress in a Republican-leaning district.

According to an Associated Press poll released last week, approval of Congress remains abysmally low. Just 28 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is doing its job, while 69 percent disapprove.

"If one of the most unpopular politicians in Washington and her record low approval-rating colleagues want to come out against Joe Wilson, Joe ought to smile warmly and say, 'Yes ma'am,'" said Robert Cahaly, an Atlanta-based GOP strategist who works frequently in South Carolina.

Katon Dawson, the former chairman of the South Carolina Republican party, said Democrats will "secure Wilson's seat for the next two years" if they approve Tuesday's resolution. He said Wilson should welcome the resolution as an opportunity to nationalize the race by running against the "arrogant" Democratic leadership in Congress and forcing Miller to take positions on unpopular national issues.

"I think it would be a tremendous asset to Joe Wilson's re-elect for the Congress to try to censure him or do something to him," Dawson said. "I find it hilarious that they're spending so much time on him."

Top Democrats in the state, however, warned Republicans against being so self-assured, especially since Wilson's outburst turned his little-known Democratic rival into a well-funded challenger in a matter of days.

Miller has raised more than $1.5 million dollars in just five days, a substantial improvement from his last campaign. In 2008, Miller raised roughly $400,000 and gave himself another $235,000, but still managed to come within eight points of Wilson.

Dick Harpootlian, the former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said "the crazy folks, the right wing folks" are already in Wilson's camp, House resolution or not. He said Wilson needs to worry about independent voters instead.

"It's another crazy piece of conduct from a Republican in this state," he said. "I think the independent voter out there is saying, 'What the hell? Why is this guy screaming at the President of the United States?'"

Still, Harpootlian said House Democrats need to be cautious during Tuesday's vote. Any effort to punish Wilson, he said, must be done "in a somber, respectful way, instead of a gleeful crucifixion."

Scott Huffmon, a political scientist at Winthrop University, doubted that the resolution would have any sweeping impact on the 2010 race beyond rallying the party faithful. If House Democrats succeed in passing the resolution against Wilson, he said, the Republican would "wear that among his supporters as a badge of honor."

"If there’s any kind of censure vote, he will print that in his fundraising letters, mark my word," Huffmon said.


Filed under: Joe Wilson • Rob Miller • South Carolina
soundoff (185 Responses)
  1. the dude

    censoring him, or smacking his hand is probably not worth the effort...but the rep. comments from south carolian say it all...lets keep this the issue...lets not talk about the real issue of health care...after all, the issues are "us vs. them" to these people, not how we can improve our country..."lets just hang on four years and fight the democrats" is the strategy...and it'll probably fail anyway...and to think these folks where voted into office to represent the citizens of south carolina...representing them now by focusing on "you lie," vs. real issues....

    With all the craziness from the gov. to the congressman...South 'sCarolina" political system appears broken,or at least out of touch with reality.

    September 15, 2009 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  2. jon,philadelphia

    It just figures that it's the Republicans who show this much disrespect. Ever since the Gingrich revolution they have been just plain evil.
    They have no thoughts on the country just winning. More and more they are the party of nutcases and those who hate the middle-class.

    September 15, 2009 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  3. Bedtime for Obonzo

    More partisan Pelosi posturing. Wilson apologized to the President, and the President accepted the apology. That should be the end of the story. But noooooo. Nancy wants a show trial. Wilson is right to fight.

    September 15, 2009 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  4. Never Back Up

    After listening to the democrats in congress bash bush for the last 8 years( and I did not like bush either ) I fail to see the big deal here. Are the democrats kind of like the old saying, they can dish it out but can't take it ? Thats the problem with the country today, everybody is too worried about being politically correct and afraid they will be labeled as this or that. Speak your mind and let the chips fall. To me there are no african americans, irish americans, spanish americans, etc., your either an american or your not.

    September 15, 2009 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. Roger

    "Bring it on" I recall another not so bright chucklehead saying that.

    September 15, 2009 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  6. John

    All of this tells me that Republicans are for ignorance, incivility, common rudeness, shoutdown instead of debate. Wilsons actions are wrong, absolutely wrong. whether it is your guy doing it or the other sides guy doing it. The dumbing down of the Republican party has finally reached fruition with Palin, Sanford, Wilson and a host of other nitwits. South Carolina's history of being a dumping groung for convicts and other misfits seems to provide a genetic basis for the actions of their politicians over the last couple of hundred years.

    September 15, 2009 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  7. lila

    Yes, because the conservative point of view is that they don't need the black vote, and they have lost it forever, now it is that they don't need the Hispanic vote, so they treat them and theirs like roaches, and in the process are losing their vote forever, the conservatives have lost the youth vote, and the tea party conservatibe movement is so low brow and ugly they are making sure the youth are so disgusted with them as a party they imprint deeply to not vote for you, Gee, what does that leave, oh yes, the bulk of your base, white people over 65. And that group is not going to be around much longer.
    Oh, short sighted tea bag republicans, indeed the democrats will bring it on. Your land of red is shrinking smaller and smaller and you pander to the crazies in your party. And the South West will be Hispanic very soon.
    Indeed, set in your shrinking frog pound and croak.

    September 15, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  8. Jill-IN

    Wilson broke House rules but apparently that's OK until the tables are turned someday. Laws and rules need to stand fro something – otherwise what are we teaching our children.

    September 15, 2009 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  9. Joe Wilson is the Ann Coulter of the U.S. House

    Wilson has nothing to apologive for; he has policy differences with Obama. Therefore, Wilson was justified in his outburst and he should be applauded for speaking up and taking a stand during the Obama-Wilson debate. Thanks to Wilson we should be seeing more outbursts like this in the future. Wilson is so proud of his conduct and his censure he will use his outburst for fundraising purposes.

    September 15, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  10. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    Giving Mr. Wilson anymore attention is detrimental at this point. After the initial furor, he apologized and the President accepted the apology. Granted, Mr. Wilson’s actions afterwards prove he really is not sorry, but to continue harping on this obstructionist is not going to bear any fruit other than lining his coffers. His stubborn defiance and ignorance are bringing the troglodytes out of the caves and feeding the frenzy will only strengthen his resolve.

    September 15, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  11. Connie, Indiana

    Typical!!!!!!!!!! I believe this was a set-up. No-one on either side of him that night even flinched..They sat with their heads down and absolutely no emotion.. After all it was said that he was a lower congressman, so what did he have to loose..pathetic.

    September 15, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  12. I am Newt's ex wife

    No surprise...this gives the Hannity-Limebaugh hugging Wilson the opportunity to show that he is nothing but a closed minded right wing nutjob.

    The guy apologizes and ends up on Fox TWICE blaming liberals for this "mess"..

    Again NO fats just conservative Bluster.

    What a joke.......does south carolina have any politicians that are not wacko in the GOP.

    This guy is a vermin

    September 15, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  13. FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW!

    Bring what on?

    Maybe Katon Dawson and the rest of these people don't realize that Joe Wilson is facing much bigger problems than a House resolution of disapproval.

    His Democratic challenger in SC, Rob Miller, has raised over $1 million since his stupid outburst (I contributed!) and is a little ahead of Wilson, according to polling.

    What Wilson did may just have ensured that Democrats will not be losing seats in Congress in 2010, and might just gain some!

    September 15, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  14. Bob from pittsburgh

    To all Democrats “”Keep the eye on the ball””.. I am sure the repugs would love to have a debate about the silly Wilson outburst, however it may be a tactic to take attention somewhere else other than health reform, just remember the top honcho of the tea party protesters admitted on national TV that he would let his wife suffer before reforming health care.. nice guy eh?

    September 15, 2009 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  15. mike

    it"s mister WILSON soccer ball head that is filled with alot of air he could be the next anchor idiot for fox news another hillbilly from the south what anchor on this country

    September 15, 2009 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  16. Joe Fattal

    A political move from the Democrates against Wilson, which in reality he didn't say anything wrong, maybe a little loud, but nothing that any other politician don't do, is liying. They all lie, we all lie, to be a politician you have to lie, or know how to lie without giving everyone the impression that you lie. Lies, lies we all have to live by it, abide by it, and last but not least, don't get caught with it.

    September 15, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  17. derrick

    Breaking News... america has been bought by those who have money.

    September 15, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  18. Enough

    He does NOT owe any apology to congress. He apologized to Obama for the outburst, even though he spoke the truth. congress needs to get over themselves and get back to work. How quickly those Democrats forgot about their disruptions when Bush spoke. Typical hypocrite and we the people don't support this BS...............vote them out!

    Time to send a campaign donation to Wilson??

    September 15, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  19. Tom C

    Joe Wilson broke the rules of conduct. I have seen the British Parliament and do not want that type of yelling and screaming on the house or senate floor. He needs to apologize to his peers not to just the president. All the times that republican presidents have not told the truth, not once did a demorcrat make an outburst like that. Just tells me the republicans will do anything, I mean anything to condone uncivility and bad conduct.

    September 15, 2009 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  20. Scott L

    WHO CARES!

    Why is the house voting on this resolution when there are bigger issues at play?

    Liberals make no sense. Just like Pelosi to prove a point. Deal with it, move on.

    Chavez and Putin are in bed together now and we are censuring our own leadership.

    MAKES ZERO SENSE TO ME!

    September 15, 2009 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  21. phoenix86

    Wilson's democratic rival is getting money from the far left fringe, who cannot risk having their big lie exposed.

    You go Joe! Keep calling out this corrupt adminstration. Don't be afraid to speak the truth!

    September 15, 2009 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  22. haren

    Even Kanye West knows when to say sorry and apologize.
    Raising money will not help to get elected.

    September 15, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  23. Tim S

    Don't forget..... Wilson's biggest campaign contributor, for the last 12+ years is...... you guessed it.... health insurance companies, and big pharma. Now, why aren't we surprised?

    September 15, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  24. Cindy Merrill

    So there's hope for our nation after all- maybe there's a chance that the one party dictatorship will be curtailed in the midterm elections, 13 months away- I fear it will be too late, by then, however. We're going to get a health care plan shoved down our throats that is written by a committee whose head says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it, but exempts themselves from it, signed by a president that also hasn't read it, and who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke.
    What could possibly go wrong?

    September 15, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  25. Tatianna

    To err is human, to be intentionally wrong all the time requires a liberal!

    September 15, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
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