Wilson Outburst a Boon to Challenger

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Update, 12:00 p.m. ET: Wilson emerged from his office this morning and stressed to reporters that his "you lie!" comment at last night's speech was not premeditated, reports CBS News' Josh Gross.

He said that he was contacted by the GOP leadership immediately after the speech and was told to apologize. He called the White House and discussed moving forward. Both sides agreed that immigration coverage should be discussed, Wilson said.

Original post below...


Since Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouted out that President Obama had offered a "lie" during his speech to Congress last night, his Democratic challenger has raised more than $200,000, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee tells CBS News.

The DCCC says Wilson's challenger in South Carolina's 2nd congressional district, former Marine Rob Miller, received nearly 5,000 individual contributions since Wilson's outburst.

Jill Lawrence at Politics Daily reports that a significant chunk of the money has come from readers of Daily Kos, a national liberal blog, who began a group called "Defeating the man who yelled 'liar' at Obama" on the ActBlue.com Web site.

"It's worth noting that Wilson represents a heavily GOP district," CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris points out. "John McCain received 54 percent of the vote last year, George Bush 60 percent in 2004."

"My guess is that his constituents may be a lot more forgiving of his outburst - and may actually agree with him," Chaggaris said.

Indeed, though we have no numbers on the effect this is having on Wilson's fundraising, it wouldn't be a surprise if he got a fundraising boost as well.

Next year's battle between Miller and Wilson is a rematch of the 2008 race, when Miller got 46 percent of the vote to Wilson's 54 percent.

In 2001, when Floyd Spence died in office, Wilson won a special election with 73 percent of the vote.

Wilson's district, which includes Columbia and resort areas like Hilton Head Island, is 26 percent African-American. It's possible that President Obama's presence on the ballot last year contributed to the relatively close 2008 results.

"I suspect that mid-term turnout, without Obama on the ballot, will be more reflective of the '06 turnout numbers," said Chaggaris. In 2006, Wilson took 63 percent of the vote to his challenger's 37 percent.

After President Obama said last night that his proposed healthcare reforms would not extend to illegal aliens – which is essentially trueWilson shouted out "you lie!," prompting shocked responses from other lawmakers. Wilson later apologized amid condemnation from some colleagues.

"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me," he said in a statement. "While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility."

Update, 1:21: Following a Cabinet meeting Thursday, Mr. Obama said he accepted Wilson's apology. He said it's important to have a conversation without vitriol and said the media could help by not focusing on shrill comments. The president said he's "a big believer that we all make mistakes."

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