Local

Wilson makes job shadowing a part of his campaign

Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson gets a quick lesson on changing the oil on an outboard boat motor from Butler Marine employee Steve Holland during a bus tour stop on Lady's Island on Friday morning.
Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson gets a quick lesson on changing the oil on an outboard boat motor from Butler Marine employee Steve Holland during a bus tour stop on Lady's Island on Friday morning.

A dress shirt and slacks may be appropriate attire for U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson as he reads "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" to a room of preschoolers Friday morning at Hobbit Hill, Too on Lady's Island.

But the same ensemble certainly wouldn't fly later, when he helped repair boats at Butler Marine.

It was time for "The Work Shirt."

On a hanger by itself near the back of Wilson's 38-foot tour bus, the navy blue janitor's shirt with a red "Joe" name tag has become a symbol of the "Joe Means Jobs" bus tour, which made several stops Friday in Beaufort and Bluffton.

Beginning in early February, Wilson began criss-crossing the state's 2nd Congressional District, which includes Beaufort County, job-shadowing his constituents and performing tasks such as car body work, changing the oil of a boat and flipping pancakes.

"This is really all about getting to work with real people and getting to hear about the real-life issues going on in the district," Wilson said. "I want to be as accessible as possible."

Wilson stopped Friday at Hobbit Hill, Butler Marine, Bluffton BBQ and 1 Contemporary Furniture in Bluffton.

Dustin Olson, Wilson's tour manager, said the congressman has stopped at more than 50 businesses across the 10-county district since the tour began earlier this year, and the stops are a major component of Wilson's campaign.

"The best way to represent people is to know what they're going through in their daily lives," Olson said. "This wasn't our idea, this was something he has always done. It helps him better relate to folks."

Chris Butler, owner of Butler Marine, said the tour goes a long way toward demonstrating Wilson's interest in job creation by small businesses throughout the county and the district.

"Anytime someone comes in and shows that he cares enough to come here and see for himself what it's like, that's generally a good thing," Butler said.

In November, Wilson again faces Democratic challenger Rob Miller of Lady's Island, whom he defeated by about 26,000 votes in 2008 to earn his fourth term.

Patrick Norton, Miller spokesman, called the tour and Friday's events a "gimmick."

"Joe Wilson has been in Washington, D.C., and he's trying to cram in two and a half months worth of campaigning to make up for the fact that he hasn't brought any jobs to South Carolina," Norton said. "It's evident that when Joe Wilson puts on this uniform and goes out and does this job or that job that the only job he really cares about is his own."

  Comments