Obama accepts Wilson's outburst apology

ByABC News
September 10, 2009, 1:21 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Thursday accepted Rep. Joe Wilson's apology after the congressman shouted "You lie!" during the president's prime time address to Congress on health care.

"I'm a big believer that we all make mistakes," Obama told reporters at the White House after a Cabinet meeting. "He apologized quickly and without equivocation and I'm appreciative of that."

Wilson's apology issued in a press release Wednesday night after Obama's speech and conveyed in a phone call to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel did not prevent the South Carolina Republican's startling eruption from becoming Topic A in the nation's capital.

Morning news programs, the hallways of Congress and the World Wide Web were buzzing over what Wilson said in the middle of a room thronged with Washington VIPs, including foreign diplomats. "I was embarrassed for a chamber and a Congress I love. I served there for 36 years, and I thought it demeaned the institution," Vice President Biden said on Good Morning America.

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., called on his Twitter account for Wilson to be reprimanded. "There ought to be a reprimand or censure of Rep. Joe Wilson to discourage that kind of conduct in the future," read Specter's Tweet.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported that Bob Miller, a Democrat challenging Wilson for re-election next year, had raised $350,000 in campaign contributions in the hours following Wilson's comments. The congressman's official website crashed "due to unusually high traffic," an online announcement from his office said.

Pelosi was eager to shift the focus Thursday back to the substance of the president's health care proposal. She told reporters that Wilson's apology should end the issue. Other Democrats were not so willing to shrug it off.

"A major breach of decorum," is how Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., described Wilson's outburst. Hastings said Wilson should "apologize to the institution."