Jackson County Republicans will come together on March 16 to meet this year’s candidates for the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina, their state legislators, and other local candidates and representatives. The convention will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Jackson a County Senior Center in Sylva. Jackson Republicans will elect district and state convention delegates and conduct other official business to gear up for this year’s primary season. Perhaps most surprisingly, Jackson County’s GOP will host Joe Wilson, a U.S. House Representative from South Carolina.
As it turns out, the South Carolina Congressman has a summer home in Cashiers. Ralph Saughter, chairman of Jackson County’s Republican Party, found a letter slipped beneath his office door in Cashiers one day last fall. The letter was from Congressman Wilson. Wilson wrote that he was sorry he could not meet Saughter and for them to plan a meeting when Wilson came back to the area. Eventually, Saughter was able to schedule Wilson to be the keynote speaker at their March convention, something Saughter says Party members are really excited about.
Congressman Wilson became famous, or notorious depending on your politics, for interrupting President Obama’s healthcare speech during a joint session of Congress in September of 2009. When the President said the Affordable Care Act would not cover illegal immigrants, Wilson shouted “you lie!” in front of a nationally televised audience. As you might expect, the interruption caused an uproar.
The comment caused an outrage among Congressional Democrats, and even Republican Senator John McCain said Wilson’s comments were “totally disrespectful.” However, the South Carolina Congressman managed to raise over $700,000 in 48 hours after he shouted the President down, and is still widely celebrated in Republican circles. “I’ve had people come up to me and say they are coming to our convention just so they can shake his hand,” said Saughter.
Wilson immediately issued a statement to the President following the outburst, saying “I extend my sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility.” Yet, even after he issued the apology, House Democrats formally rebuked Wilson for not apologizing on the House floor. Wilson stated that one apology was enough and still maintained that the President was wrong about the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of illegal immigrants.
The incident made Wilson an instant celebrity, and after nearly three years since the infamous utterance, Wilson will give a 20- to-30 minute speech before Jackson County Republicans at their March convention. “We are really excited to have him come here. I don’t know what he is going to talk about, but I am sure people will be listening,” said Saughter. When asked if Wilson’s attendance at the convention was inappropriate, Saughter replied “I don’t think so. I really don’t think it will be that big of a deal. He has a home in Cashiers so it makes sense. And I can’t say I wouldn’t have said the same thing if I had to sit and listen to the President tell a lie,” he said.