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September 10th, 2009
06:52 AM ET

Wilson shouts 'you lie' at Obama, then apologizes

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Republican House member shouted "You lie" during President Obama's health care speech to Congress on Wednesday, and members of both parties condemned the heckling.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Rep. Joe Wilson shouted "You lie" after President Obama denied health reform would cover illegal immigrants."]

After the speech, South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson issued a statement apologizing for his outburst.

"This evening, I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the president's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill," the statement said. "While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility."

Wilson also called the White House to apologize and spoke with Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who accepted the apology on the president's behalf, according to a senior administration official.

"We can disagree without being disagreeable," Emanuel said to Wilson, according to the official. "That was the point of the president's speech."

The outburst came when Obama denied that proposed health care legislation would provide free health coverage for illegal immigrants. Immediately, Wilson shouted, "You lie!"

Watch the outburst and the chamber's response Video

Read the full story »

Filed under: Controversy • Politics
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Ron

    We often wonder what the problem is in the US, children out of control, Corporations are rich and others aren’t, freedom of speech covers everything now a days, jobs are lost and people are no longer able to get the American dream. When we, as adults, act like we are in the 4th grade, we set that as an acceptable way of being an American. I was always raised to believe this: 98% of what is your life is your choice; the other 2% is out of your control. Maybe this country is the way it is because we adults are no longer adults.
    Yes Joe Wilson was wrong! He was not professional, lack of ethics and children may see that if he can say it, do it, than so can I. I no longer vote, because as long as we have a house of children as this country's voice, I want no part of it.

    September 16, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  2. Monique Lowes

    If the President was a Judge , Joe wilson would have been thrown in jail! He's a senator , he is not a good rolemodel for our children, we are taught to be respectful as a child...

    September 14, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  3. Edward

    Republican/conservative ≠ racist. If anything, I've heard more racism propaganda from the left in the last 8 years than I have heard from the right in the last 20 years. Enough with the ignorant claim that anyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist. All you're doing is cheapening the real meaning of racism, so when it is genuine, nobody listens anymore. Get off it already. People can disagree with Obama or Steele, Jesse Jackson or Clarence Thomas without being a racist.
    Now before the younger crowd starts throwing accusations at me, I'm a Jew who married a native of Mexico, my sister is married to a native of Puerto Rico and my daughter is married to an African-American. If you seriously want to take on a political moderate, who disagrees with Obama and has a more diverse racial family history than 99.99% of the liberals on this blog, then let's do it.
    If the liberals have the intestinal fortitude to look at it, they need to check out to see what statements Obama has made and what PolitiFact shows about them. Wilson isn't the only one who thinks Obama is not being truthful.
    Bush made me sick to my stomach. I felt he was a pompous jerk during his entire time in office. I don't have that same opinion of Obama...yet, but his followers and supporters have past that point en masse already. Stick to the facts and if you throw a racism charge out there, you had better have really good proof of it, because if not, you're only hurting the reputation of an administration you say you support.

    September 13, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  4. CHUCK


    September 11, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  5. Paul Mysza

    I bet there are a lot of republicans, like myself, who are getting tired of the way the republican party is working. I am tired of the fear tactics, lies, and lack of ethics. what happened to "team work' and "for the people and of the people?" How long can the republican party last, if they don't start getting their act together? I am considering switching parties soon.

    September 11, 2009 at 11:12 am |
  6. Ivan

    I listen to CNN news and commentary on this presidency, the health plans, Obama's birth certificate, and more. I listen to MSNBC and I try to listen to FOX. I've come to the conclusion that this country is still racist. Extremely racist.

    We have a black president and that has brought out this racism. Like the last gasp of a drowning animal. May it drown quickly so that this country can move on.

    September 11, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  7. ALK

    Joe Wilson demonstrates the problem in the Republican Party, stirring up the party for personal political gain, and deliberately dividing the country into "us and them". Sarah Paline said about Obama,"He's not one of us", trying to reve up the conservative right.

    I believe we and they are now reaping the Divide and Conquer initiated by Carl Rove and the first Bush administration. Disagreements about Iraq were met with claims of aiding and a betting the enermy.

    By the way, what happened to the Republican claim that speaking against the President in a time of war was also giving comfort to the enemy, or does that apply only to Presidents who agree with you?

    September 11, 2009 at 6:55 am |
  8. moke

    wasn't mister wilson a soccer ball no brains just a lot of air and he got lost at sea

    September 11, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  9. jim vicalvi

    To Pet: Like most of your comment your 67% approval rating was wrong. The 67% was for dems. watching the speech. While that might sound like a huge number but it isn't. Fully a third of his own party disapproves. Should have been a much higher mandate.

    September 11, 2009 at 2:45 am |
  10. G. Spears

    CNN – please stop giving Rep Joe Wilson air time. He disrespected the office of the United States President. You news story's on this is only fueling more controversey and more divide.

    Please have constructive discussions on the Health Care Debate, President Obama's speech and Health Care reform.
    Go back to the scheduling and discussions you would have had if this disrespect never happened.

    September 10, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  11. jeff v

    i would like to say this jerk that said TO OUR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES you lie ??? what a freeking jerk i wish you could be fired MR> PRESIDENT if you need a great person hire me ive been out of work over a year

    September 10, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  12. jay m

    Republicans, stop being a Rush, Sean, Beck, and Fox puppets.

    September 10, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  13. Sandra

    Here's the simple bottomline: If the opposition fails to get the American public's attention, they lose. What Joe Wilson did was a concerted effort to cause distraction from the president's speech and have the media and public focus on Joe Wilson and not on the merits of the proposed bill or the success of his speech overall. That is why he [Joe Wilson] had no problem calling the White House to apologize because it was already in the plan. He is just a willing pawn in the game.

    Get with it folks. The Republicans / support orgs are do it at all cost gamers. They don't really give a care as long as they keep the debate heated against the incumbent. They basically have many Americans thinking that Obama is unintelligent and untrustworthy. How ridiculous and how sad. Once the town hall meetings showed that even senior people are acting like hoodlums, all because lies were being spread and Palin open her mouth inappropriately, the GOP is milking it for all they can get. Guess who loses? We all do because the bickering continues and ignorant people are actually heated up over something so needed because some people are just looking for reason to express their discontent with he one in the White House. It's not hard to figure out the noise comes from those who did not vote for Obama. Who is expecting the president to hit ten pins in all the alleys? Is it possible to make every American happy? That will be the day. I'm sure the father [Lee Atwater] of this evilness in the GOP game plan is rotting in Hell. It's no wonder he got afflicted at such a young age. Who do you think is the author of confusion?

    And, by the way, giving your history in America and how much your immigrant parents and/or great grandparents did or had to go through is no great consolation either. It has no bearing on the state of consciousness today. Anyone who thinks that racism is dead is a fool. Just read some these comments. The pride game is played out too; the I'm a better American than you are attitude is played out. Get some love in your life for people of all walks. THAT'S CHANGE.

    People want change but you don't want to do your part, just sit back and find fault with those who have real courage and who work hard to make a difference. For that matter, why should we expect Government to take care of us? First you want to overhaul welfare and cut social programs; then you want the government to bail you out when you fall on hard time! Reverse Mortgage. Home stimulus. Tax stimulus. Katrina victims. It goes on and on. What's the difference? This is real hypocrisy.

    September 10, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  14. Michelle

    Bob, you are more than welcome to use your salary, income, or whatever your means ......send it to the nearest hospital and tell them : "This is to cover all those people I care about that can't pay for healthcare." In fact, if you feel so strongly, I think you have a moral duty to your conscience to give them All your money. mean you don't want to give them YOUR money, just OUR money. Oh, I get it now. I have relatives like you. They never make the connection that money from the govt comes mostly from hard working middle class Americans who are usually struggling to some degree themselves.

    September 10, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  15. Pete

    To Thom: Your statistics come from what credible source? "75 Million Americans" think our President is lying? Please! Not one of my republican friends support Wilson's disgusting and childish tantrum channeled toward this country's President –he IS everyone's President regardless of ideology. Nor have I heard one of Wilson's Peers today support his conduct ; rather they deplore it. Most of us were brought up to respect others until/unless they give reason not to, and most of us, Thank God, believe our President, the leader of our country deserves basic civility and respect while he addresses the nation. As to Jim's comments about Obama's ratings "plummeting," – wishful thinking since very early CNN polls show 67% post speech approval vs 52% pre-speech. Time will tell. We endured many years with GW Bush as President, and his spending–and the record deficit he left Mr. Obama–will dwarf that entailed by this Health Care Reform Bill. Regardless, surely Obama deserves more than 10 months before being graded? Does anyone really believe that someone who twice thanks and even calls for more Joe Wilsons is really not a supporter of scary right-wingers like Beck, & Limbaugh? You do have the right to denigrate even our President, Jim, of course, but you are NOT a sitting member in the House, and it is not about our rights but, rather, about basic civility and fundamental respect for the nation's leader–while he is speaking. I do not remember seeing "American" on the ballots btw. Jim, Steve and others who support Wilson would enjoy FOX News's right wing drivel far more than CNN surely? Sigh.

    September 10, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  16. Brad Johnson

    Hmmm. It's interesting, why didn't Wilson say that during the Bush speeches about Weapon of Mass destructions! Just sayin.

    September 10, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  17. Mark

    a typical Republican, I hope the insurance companies pay him really good.

    September 10, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  18. Bob

    Every time I hear some one say "No Healthcare for illegals" I translate that into "Let them suffer" because that is exactly what happens.
    They suffer, they might die, and that is what the policy of the American Government should be.
    No politician will say "Let them suffer" but that is what happens when "No Healthcare for illegals" is the policy of the land.
    "Get a better grip folks"

    September 10, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  19. jim vicalvi

    My opinion of politicians has not been very good but I would like to say to Mr. Joe Wilson, THANK YOU. There are really some good people in Congress. I was brought up to believe that respect is something that has to be earned. It does not come with a name or a title. Look at the California dingbat that thought that she should be called "Senator" because she had worked hard to get that status. Hard at what might be interesting to find out!! Obummer, and as an AMERICAN I have the right to call him that, has not earned my respect at all. He is nothing more than your typical overpaid, dishonest politician. I call him the pied piper of washington. More and more people are learning what his promises are really meant to do and we are seeing his ratings plummeting downhill quickly. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but it didn't take long to change my mind on that. I do not listen to Limbaugh or beck nor am a rep. or Independant. I try to vote AMERICAN. To many times lately we have had to vote for the lesser of two evils on many matters. I really wish that we could get the none of the above box on the ballot. It might change a lot of things fast!!

    September 10, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  20. CHUCK


    September 10, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  21. Bruce Hoff

    Trying to pull his shoe out of his mouth is no better than Sanford trying to keep his pants zipped. Rep. Wilson needs to go on a hike with Gov. Sanford and not come back. Any other bad politicians that would like to join should be given the same opportunity.
    Our country is in distress and suffering severe image problems; due to clowns like these two.

    September 10, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  22. Bob

    Go Joe Wilson......we need representatives that represent the people, not the the bill.......

    September 10, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  23. Shirley Jenkins

    Good Morning

    It pains me that I can not say what I really want to say about the way some our nation feels about President Obama's. His Health Care speech last night was very sincere and straight to the point I got it why couldn't everyone else. Every Republican shouting out where is the money coming from but it didn't stop them to send billions to Irac and we don't really know how much while we americans suffer without health insurance, yet you have people like Joe Wilson shouting out the most ignorant statement while the world is watching. I admire President Obama and with great respect, no matter what the media says that is derogatory towards him you can't take away his education, political stands, nor his intellect. You have some people in the world that just can't get over he is an African American who happens to have been elected by the people of America. We were put here to aid and help each other not see how much we can get and forget about the next man.
    I felt the disrespect from Joe Wilson last night for the President. Never in the history of my time have I ever seen any other President be so disrespeted before in my life. You may not like him or what he stands for but it's time you all get the since God gave you to respect him. I pray all who wish him destruction/failure be shown up in the face of all man kind for what they really are.

    September 10, 2009 at 11:12 am |
  24. Terry

    CNN answered my question by showing's rating of Wilson: totally false. CNN went on to explain what is in ONE VERSION of the bill: under that version, illegal immigrants can BUY their own insurance under the exchange that would be set up for those with the least money to buy insurance. What CNN didn't say, and that the president should have said, is that WE ARE CURRENTLY PAYING FOR EVERY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT WITHOUT INSURANCE WHO WALKS INTO AN EMERGENCY ROOM. SO WHAT WOULD YOU RATHER DO? HAVE THEM PAY THEIR OWN MEDICAL BILLS, OR CONTINUE TO PAY THEM YOURSELF??? DAHHH. They also noted that illegal immigrants already do buy their own insurance. It woud have taken the president 2 minutes to say all of this, and he should have. Judging from some of the feedback seen this morning, the president has to get into all of the minutia himself. I guess he is going to have to go on the air and read aloud every version of the bill to the American people and disucss it.

    September 10, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  25. Michelle

    I don't know of any document ANYWHERE in this country that says illegal immigrants are presently covered. BUT THEY ARE. Millions are. And that's just in California alone. Can we stick with facts instead of name calling. Anyone can objectively look at these blogs and see that the overwhelming majority of name calling is coming from only one group. And it's not moderate Democtats, independents or Republicans. Just sayin'.....

    September 10, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  26. Thom Geiger

    Libs call it hate and bigotry when Repubs and Cons do it, but they call it righteous and justified when they do it. It's hypocritical. Besides, using the racist and bigot labels in a debate over political philosophy is crying wolf. It has has no impact because it is overused and misused. It shows how weak one side of an argument really is.
    Is that the best the Libs can do? The guilt game? That might have worked in helping get Obama elected, but now comes the nuts and bolts day-to-day operations of government that is about to affect every human in this country. The old liberal standby of playing off middle class, mostly white conservative guilt (if you oppose the first black President on anything, you're a racist) is not going to cut it.
    My great grandparents came here through Ellis Island. There are 60 million American descendants of immigrants who came here after the civil war, who never owned slaves, hard working immigrants who endured through years of their own fight for civil rights, became part of this country by fighting in its wars and sacrificing their blood and their children to this nation's defense, putting their children through the public school system, working hard, raising familes, produciing for industry. That old stale racist spew doesn't work with me, nor with the other proud descendants I know of bona fide legal immigrants to this country. You want to try again?

    September 10, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  27. Gene Williamson Sr

    The only way the american public will except a new health plan, and know that it is reliable is: That politicians are willing to give up their health care for it, and that it will be affordable to the poor individual that only makes 20-25 thousand a year, and until they get to that point, then they are just wasting money going on television talking about it.

    September 10, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  28. Pete

    "I agree Wilson obviously feels like 79% of taxpaying Americans today..." Really? Sheila's statistic is baseless hyperbole not unlike most of the misinformation propogated by the right wing, people like "Thorn" who expresses above that he wishes "we had more Joe Wilsons in Congress." God forbid! I do not recall GWB ever being called a liar during a nationally televised speech–ever–& God knows he lied (ie. "weapons of M Destr in Iraq") !. Liz is quite right that the Republicans did NOT support either medicare or social security or a plethora of proposed critical social changes for the betterment of America–where the special interest lobbies felt their grossly inflated profit margins were at risk. It is these lobbies who perpetually fund the campaigns of the Joe Wilsons types. The uninsured, sick, and poor cannot afford another 40 years of inaction and indifference so that right wing politicians can continue to be re-elected largely with the huge funding of the special interest groups which are clearly driving & funding this current scare & misinformation campaiign. I pray that, finally, the Pork Barrelling right wing who serve, primarily their own interests & clearly care not for those less fortunate, do not once again prevail with status quo. Good work, Mr. President! Onwards, Forward!

    September 10, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  29. GiGi

    I so agree with you Donna and I too am from SC!! Congressman Wilson's behavior was unacceptable and should not be tolerated. He needs to be held accountable without a doubt!! Besides, I have not seen anything that he has done for us in SC, but took up SPACE in congress.

    September 10, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  30. Stacey T.

    To Kelly in Co. – You've labeled Medicare a complete failure because of a delay or denial for your grandmother getting into a specialized nursing home? Are you kidding me? Could you or your family afford ANY nursing home care without Medicare. Maybe Co. is the cheapest state in the country, because in our area the most basic nursing homes run around 5 grand a month. If you can afford that without Medicare, then count yourself blessed and leave Medicare to the rest of us who need it.

    September 10, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  31. Steven

    Thom Geiger, if , as you say , 75 million people think the way Rep. Wilson, then we truely are on the road to a civil war. I say there are a couple hundred million who reject the hate and bigotry being spewed by the right ever since the last election.

    September 10, 2009 at 10:10 am |
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