Although party leaders initially called Rep. Joe Wilson's presidential insult disrespectful and unacceptable, fundraisers have apparently decided his outburst 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. Attendees can get a photo with Wilson for $150. He 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 health care 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 health care," he wrote in the new national plea.
Andy Sere, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, defended the new national 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 during Obama's address before Congress 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."