Congressman Joe Wilson received national attention earlier this year when he shouted, “You Lie” during President Obama's State of the Union Address. Following that outburst a rather under the wire congressman was in the spot light.
Soon after, tens of thousands of dollars where given to his opponent, Democrat Rob Miller to defeat Wilson. After Republicans got wind of the mass donations to Miller, Wilson began receiving donations from all over the country as well. When it was over, both candidates had more than a million dollars each for their campaigns.
A war, if you will, of sorts, took place between the two candidates early on. One side wanting to rid itself of a disrespectful incumbent and to replace him with a younger Iraqi war officer. And the other wanting to hold on to a leader who is willing to speak out against an over zealous executive.
With unemployment as the number one issue voters want addressed, Congressman Wilson dawned a worker uniform along with a name tag and a hard hat and had commercial shoots throughout the district. The shoots depict him as engaged on various job sites as though he were a foreman. The tag line of the commercials was, “Joe means Jobs”.
Rob Miller had less name recognition then the incumbent Wilson, so he began with a, “get to know me” type commercial. The commercial showed Miller in combat gear and short interviews with soldiers he led into battle in Iraq. Emphasis was on his ability to lead in difficult situations. Implying that if Captain Miller could lead us into battle, he can lead in Congress.
Millers commercial was compelling and appeared to be well received throughout the district, but as anyone who covers politics knows a good ad can lead to one or the other candidate going negative. Finance records indicated that Miller had received a considerable contribution from the anti-war, Political Action Committee, MoveOn.org
Wilson, a veteran himself, countered with an ad featuring a retired general scolding his lower ranking Miller for taking contributions from MoveOn.org. The same group that took out a full page ad in the New York Times in 2007 that called the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus as "General Betray Us.". Two Men said Miller should be ashamed of himself and return the money.
Miller has excellent campaign managers as well. They decided to counter Wilson's, “Joe Means Jobs” with an ad that related that in 2005 Wilson voted for the Central America Free Trade Agreement. Many blame CAFTA for South Carolina's textile industries demise and with an unemployment rate of nearly 11 percent, folks in the ad say they would never vote for anyone, meaning Wilson, who sent jobs over seas.
Last Poll from the Cook Report had Congressman Joe Wilson as a solid Republican district. Wilson won two years ago with 54% of the vote. Even so this election season there is an anti-incumbent atmosphere related in national polling.
With just seven weeks left until election day, both candidates have plenty more ammunition in their war chests.