Campaign Update: GOP snags big fish for Sestak seat

Rob Miller wasn’t the only entity raising big money after Obama’s health care speech. The DNC raised $1 millon. For those keeping track at home, Miller’s total is now up to $750,000.

Former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan (R) is set to announce for Rep. Joe Sestak’s (D-Pa.) House seat Monday, as the GOP looks to add the race to its top few targets.

Nearby in the Philly suburbs, Rep. Alyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) welcomes a challenger.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) will face another primary challenge after eeking out the GOP nomination in 2008.

Giuliani’s candidate loses his race for New York GOP chairman.

A former U.S marshal will run against Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) in a growing GOP primary.

Houston Mayor Bill White (D) has much of the state legislature behind his bid for Senate.

Texas state Sen. Steve Ogden (R) says he's unlikely to run against Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Texas) but refuses to rule it out.


Wilson launches political defense

Though Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) has apologized repeatedly for his verbal outburst this week, he's simultaneously launching a vigorous political defense online.alt

Tthe South Carolina Republican has placed an ad on the Drudge Report asking supporters to help him defend himself.  "Joe Wilson is under attack," the ad reads. "You can help."

Click on the ad and you'll be asked to donate to Wilson's campaign:

Today, I need your help more than ever before. I've been under attack by the liberals for months and they’ve done everything they can to quiet my very vocal opposition to more government interference in Americans' lives. Now, it's gotten even worse, but I will not stop fighting against their policies that will only lead to more government interference, more spending, and higher deficits. [emphasis in the original.]

I should not have disrespected the President during his speech. But I am not sorry for fighting back against the dangerous policies of liberal Democrats. I will not back down.

Will you stand with me today and help me fight back against liberal attacks by making a donation to my campaign?

Wilson's 2010 opponent has raised over $500,000 since the outburst, thanks in large part to a campaign organized by liberal blogs. Wilson likely understands that he's got some catching up to do.


Norm Coleman has Bell's Palsy

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

Bell's Palsy results in the paralysis of one side of the face, but often disappears quickly after onset. Coleman is not expected to have any lasting nerve damage from the episode:

Coleman said he began noticing problems last week when he was in Washington. "I thought I had allergies. My eye was tearing," he said. Then just before boarding a plane to return to Minnesota, Coleman took a sip of water and noticed "it kind of dribbled." On the plane, he noticed only half his face worked while talking to passengers. "I was smiling but I realized that my whole face wasn't smiling — just half of my face."

He figured he had a medical problem but he wasn't concerned that it was a stroke. "I was thinking clearly ... but my muscles weren't responding," he said.


McHenry still pushing for 'czars' to testify before Congress

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) renewed his call Friday for the Obama administration's "czars" to testify before Congress.

"The Constitution is clear... the advice and consent of the Senate is required for high-ranking administration officials," McHenry, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told Fox News. "And either these czars are high-ranking administration officials making policy, which is counter to the Constitution, or they're simply figureheads collecting a salary."

McHenry first aired his request on Wednesday, in a letter to committee chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) and ranking member Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

"If the czars have high-level, decision-making authority as their titles would indicate, then it is my concern that their appointment without Senate approval represents a circumvention of our Constitutionally-mandated confirmation process," McHenry wrote.

Since first publicizing that letter, McHenry said he's received "great feedback" from his House Republican colleagues, who seem to support idea. And one of those colleagues in particular, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), is even circulating his own proposal: an outright ban on federal czars. His bill has already picked up about 93 GOP co-sponsors.

"What's apparent is that Obama administration has done what previous administrations have done," McHenry said during his interview. "But they've done it in a much wider way."


Poll: GOP better on terrorism, Dems better on economy

Americans still believe Republicans are more equipped to protect the United States from terrorist attacks and threats, a new poll finds.

According to the latest Gallup survey, 49 percent of voters perceive the GOP as better able to manage domestic security, while only 42 percent say the same of Democrats. The numbers are unchanged from September 2008, and they mark the sixth time in seven years that Republicans have polled strongest in this area.

But it is not all bad news for the Democrats: Voters believe their party is more likely than Republicans to keep the country prosperous.

About half of the survey's respondents favored the Democrats on economic issues, compared to just 31 percent for Republicans. This year is the fourth straight that Democrats have held a double-digit lead over their GOP counterparts.

Put differently: Voters' perceptions of both parties on their key issues have not changed substantially in the past year.


Wilson took caffeine pills in 2007

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who shouted "you lie!" at President Obama during his Wednesday night address to Congress, admitted to regularly consuming caffeine pills in 2007.

It is unclear if Wilson still takes NoDoz, a brand of pill that contains 200 milligrams of caffeine a pop. By comparison, a seven ounce cup of drip coffee contains 115 to 175 milligrams of caffeine.

A source told The Hill in 2007 that the congressman ingested the tablets “like candy," but Wilson insisted he was not addicted despite the fact that he had been taking them since high school.

"I love coffee, but I don’t have time to drink it and I don’t have access to it," Wilson said at the time.

The fifth-term Republican said he shared his NoDoz use with his doctor, who Wilson said assured him that the over-the-counter pills are not dangerous unless you get addicted.

Wilson interrupted the president yesterday night after he said that his health reform plan will not insure illegal immigrants. He quickly apologized for his outburst last night but maintained that Obama was lying in a radio interview today.


McCollum's PAC donates $1k to defeat Wilson

Rep. Betty McCollum's (D-Minn.) personal political action committee will donate $1,000 to Rob Miller, the Democratic candidate contesting embattled Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) seat in 2010, the congresswoman announced today.

"Rep. Wilson's words were an insult to the President of the United States and an embarrassment to the U.S. House of Representatives," McCollum said of Wilson's "You lie!" disruption on Wednesday night. "He crossed a line of protocol and decency that may be acceptable for angry ‘tea baggers' at a rally, but is completely unacceptable for a Member of Congress in the House Chambers. I want the voters of South Carolina's 2nd Congressional District to know they have a civil, respectful, and honorable choice to represent them in Congress -- Rob Miller."

Surprisingly, McCollum's announcement Thursday -- however generous -- is now but a drop in the bucket for Miller, who has raised more than $500,000 in contributions from about 14,000 individual donors since Wednesday night, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported on Thursday.

A number of groups and lawmakers are also now pulling for South Carolina Democrat, who has so far struggled with an underfunded campaign. His personal Web site on Thursday even re-directed viewers to a donation form managed by ActBlue, the party's online fundraising tool.

Of course, Miller himself has capitalized on the brouhaha. In a statement provided to CNN Wednesday night, the Democrat labeled Wilson's remark as an example of "everything that is wrong in Washington."

"Instead of engaging in childish name-calling and disrespecting our Commander-in-Chief, Joe Wilson should be working towards a bipartisan solution that makes quality, affordable health care available to each and every South Carolinian," Miller said.


Wilson: Obama's still wrong

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) on Thursday reiterated that he was wrong for interrupting President Obama's speech last night but stood behind his claim that Obama lied about providing healthcare to illegal immigrants.

Wilson's discussion with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity was his first interview since the incident. He canceled other public appearances today after receiving heavy criticism from members of both parties in Congress.

"I shouldn't have spoken out," Wilson told Hannity. "I want to have a civil discussion on the entire healthcare bill."

The fifth-term Republican said that he called the White House immediately after the speech to apologize. Earlier today, Wilson said House Republican leaders suggested he apologize after the incident.

Wilson, however, was more defiant about the content of Obama's speech than he was in his apology last night. He insisted the bill contains provisions that would offer insurance coverage to illegal aliens.

"When the president said that it would not apply to illegal aliens, he was just wrong," said Wilson.

The Education and Labor Committee member also endorsed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's (R) claim that the bill includes government "death panels" that would determine end-of-life issues for terminal patients. Wilson said it presented a "conflict of interest" for doctors advising such patients.

"These issues need to be brought out," he said.

Wilson's Democratic opponent Rob Miller has raked in campaign contributions, collecting over $400,000 in donations since Wednesday night. But Wilson told Hannity that his constituents have been "overwhelmingly supportive" of him.

"They are appreciative that I am speaking up, that I am passionate on the issue...that i have read
the bill," he said.

Hannity brought up the possibility of Wilson having a "beer summit" with Obama similar to Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s reconciliation with the officer that arrested him at his home in July.

"Hey, I'm happy to meet with anyone, anytime," Wilson said.


Clyburn wants resolution disapproving of Wilson's remarks

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Thursday he would support -- if not personally introduce -- a resolution disapproving of Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) outburst during President Barack Obama's speech Wednesday night.

"His words were inappropriate, and I think they're a sign of bad manners," Clyburn told MSNBC. "Do I think we should censor? No. Do I think we ought to pass a resolution of disapproval of his actions? Yes. We are no longer in session today, but I plan to introduce such a resolution, or ask my leadership to do so, if he refuses to go to the well [of the Congress] and apologize to his colleagues."

Clyburn's stern rebuke differs greatly from the tone taken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who told reporters today, "It's time for us to talk about healthcare, not Joe Wilson." She then dismissed numerous calls for his formal censure.

Wilson has since apologized to the president for his remark, and Obama quickly accepted. But Clyburn, citing Wilson's conduct as a gross "violation of [House] decorum," remained unconvinced. "He has no remorse whatsoever, so his words have very little meaning," the Majority Whip said, noting that Wilson only apologized because GOP leaders demanded it.

But, Clyburn added, those kinds of disruptions were expected at this stage in the health care debate.

"They told us, when we got back two days ago, if you thought August was bad, just wait until you see September and October," he said.