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South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson endorses Tim Pawlenty for president

June 09, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau

The "you lie!" congressman has endorsed the "tell the truth" candidate.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign announced Thursday that South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson has endorsed his candidacy, providing key early support in the important nominating state.

"As South Carolinians get to know Governor Pawlenty, as I have, they will see someone with a remarkable record of conservative accomplishments in a politically tough state for Republicans, and someone who has the kind of bold vision for America’s future that we need to defeat Barack Obama," Wilson said in a statement. Pawlenty has made a pledge to tell what he sees as the hard truths about the challenges facing America a centerpiece of his campaign.

Wilson has represented South Carolina's 2nd District since 2001, when he won a special election. He achieved instant notoriety in 2009 when, during President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress on healthcare reform, he shouted "You lie!" after the president said his plan would not cover illegal immigrants.

Wilson's outburst was considered a breach of congressional decorum, and he later apologized.

For his part, Pawlenty has ratcheted up his criticism of Obama as he campaigns to be the Republican who will take on the president in the fall of 2012. During an economic speech in Chicago on Tuesday, the Republican called Obama a "champion practitioner of class warfare."

Wilson will co-chair Pawlenty's campaign in South Carolina, the first Southern state to hold a primary election. Since 1980, no Republican has won the nomination without winning that state's primary. Wilson's son, Alan, won a 2010 election as state attorney general.

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