Joe Wilson: I’ve Received Encouragement From My Colleagues

September 10, 2009 1:48 p.m.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) just appeared with local talk-radio host Keven Cohen on WVOC radio in Columbia, South Carolina, where he explained how it was that he came to yell “You lie!” during President Obama’s speech to Congress — and he also said that he’s received support from his colleagues in Congress, and even from Democrats.

“I was of course so energized with the town hall meetings that we had throughout the district,” said Wilson. “I was really looking forward to betting back and hopefully hearing a speech where there would be a real effort to bring Republicans and Democrats together for health insurance reform. But as the speech kept on going, it really got to the point where statements were made concerning illegal aliens that I knew were not true.”

Cohen asked Wilson if he’d snapped. “I didn’t snap, either,” Wilson replied, “because if I’d snapped I would have kept on objecting. It was this specific fact that I knew about, that I had done research on, that I had worked with my colleagues on.”Wilson said that overall, he’s gotten a positive reception. “It’s been truly incredible, the phones have run off the hook at home in all offices, and the e-mails, the vast majority have been very favorable.”

And this goes for his colleagues in Congress, too: “I began the day, appropriately enough, at a prayer breakfast, and person after person gave me encouragement — and even Democrats. And so I’m very, very appreciative of the outpouring of support.”

Wilson admitted that what he did was not the best way to handle the situation. “I wouldn’t have planned it or done it again,” he said, adding that the right way to respond to a speech like this is to hold a press conference, to speak to reporters, and other sorts of activities after the speech itself is over.

Wilson also said that he did appreciate the whole speech itself — though his compliment did have a back-handed quality to it. “Well, actually, I was paying attention, and so I was listening. I did wonder if it was gonna ever end,” said Wilson. “But no, I was paying attention, respectfully. The conclusion of the speech was actually inspiring. It wasn’t a sort of, a critique of the bill, it was a general statement. So actually as the speech went on, it got better.”

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