Joe Wilson takes on Jimmy Carter

Congressman calls former president's remarks "a distraction," says he's taking a cue from Obama, focusing on issues

Published September 16, 2009 5:20PM (EDT)

The backlash against former President Carter's assertion that racism is behind much of the antipathy to President Obama is now in full swing. And one of the people responding to Carter is the man whose outburst prompted the former president's remarks -- Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

"That is such a distraction and a diversion from the issues that we should be discussing," Wilson told a Washington Times radio show Wednesday. "I really want to take the advice of President Obama, and that is that we should be discussing the issues, and that is what I intend to do."

Wilson's son Alan, who's running to become South Carolina's attorney general, also defended his father.

"There is not a racist bone in my dad's body," Alan Wilson said. "He doesn't even laugh at distasteful jokes. I won't comment on former President Carter, because I don't know President Carter. But I know my dad, and it's just not in him.

"It's unfortunate people make that jump. People can disagree — and appropriately disagree — on issues of substance, but when they make the jump to race it's absolutely ludicrous. My brothers and I were raised by our parents to respect everyone regardless of background or race."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

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