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No lie, Rep. Wilson is now a GOP star

The South Carolina Republican who shouted out during Obama's address to Congress has been tapped to help GOP candidates raise funds.

September 26, 2009|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Republican Party is using the newfound fame of the lawmaker who shouted "You lie!" at President Obama to raise money for GOP candidates around the country.

Although party leaders initially called Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during Obama's recent speech to Congress disrespectful and unacceptable, fundraisers have apparently decided it can be an asset.

Wilson, a previously obscure South Carolina Republican, is slated to appear at a fundraiser next month for Tim Walberg, a former Michigan Republican congressman who was defeated in November and is seeking his old seat. Attendees can get a photo with Wilson for $150. He also is soliciting money for statehouse Republicans in Virginia, and this week the GOP's national fundraising arm sent out a nationwide plea from Wilson asking conservatives to combat Democratic efforts to "spin and mislead the public" on healthcare reform.

"If we can raise more money than the Democrats, we'll send a message to [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, Obama and their friends that the American people are firmly behind the Republicans in opposition to government-run healthcare," he wrote in the new national plea.

Andy Sere, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, defended the strategy, saying Wilson is now a "national figure" who is raising important concerns. "I think the substance of his argument is correct, and that's why we're working in tandem with him to raise money," Sere said.

Wilson already had used his outburst earlier this month to raise money for his own campaign. But he argued that was necessary to match the windfall that flowed into his little-known Democratic opponent's campaign from people offended by the incident.

The House Democratic campaign arm responded with its own pitch Friday under consultant Paul Begala's name, saying "the very liars who heckled President Obama for calling them out are raising millions of dollars off of their rude, dishonest attack."

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