Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:
After what he called an "excellent and informative Cabinet meeting," President Obama told reporters that he accepts the apology of Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC, who shouted "You lie!" during the president’s address to a joint session of Congress last night.
"Yes I do," the president said. "I’m a big believer that we all make mistakes. He apologized quickly and without equivocation. And I’m appreciative of that."
Mr. Obama then turned to use Wilson as something of an example – making this a teachable moment, perhaps – saying that "we have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big, important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name-calling without the assumption of the worst in other people’s motives."
The president suggested that while Democrats and Republicans have "different ideas…for the most part we have the same aims, which is to make sure people who work hard…and act responsibility, are able to get good jobs, good wages, raise their families, make sure those kids have a good education, that they are protected from misfortune or accident by having health care and retirement security in place." He also said keeping the American people safe.
He said when it comes to party affiliation, "most Americans don think about those labels that much. They are turned off when they see people using wild accusations, false claims, name-calling, and sharply ideological approaches to solving problems. They want pragmatism."
The president said he hopes "some of the fever breaks a little bit," and he admonished the media to be helpful by "not giving all the attention to the loudest and shrillest voices."
The cabinet meeting was largely about health care reform, the president said, though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates briefed the president on national security, while Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner discussed the "promise and peril of our current economic situation."
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller