September 10th, 2009
12:20 PM ET
9 years ago

Wilson insists outburst during Obama speech 'spontaneous'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The South Carolina GOP congressman who shouted at President Barack Obama during his Wednesday night speech to Congress insisted Thursday that his outburst was "spontaneous."

Rep. Joe Wilson shocked many when he shouted "You lie!" after the president denied that health-care legislation would provide free health coverage for illegal immigrants.

Wilson told reporters Thursday that the Republican congressional leadership told him Wednesday night that they wanted him to contact the White House and indicate that his comments were "inappropriate."

Shortly after the speech ended, Wilson called the White House and issued a statement apologizing for his "inappropriate and regrettable" comments.

Administration officials, according to Wilson, said they appreciated his call and emphasized the need for "a civil discussion."

"I certainly agree with that," he said.

Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized Wilson for what they called a show of disrespect toward the president.

Filed under: Joe Wilson
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Marcelo

    You're an idiot Joe and you make other republicans look stupid. The bill clearly excludes illegal immigrants from receiving subsidies and requires them to pay into the system if they're caught taking advantage of our health services... which ISN'T happening right now, we the American people are paying for their visits because the cost of uninsured people is being built into our current monthly premiums.

    September 10, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Kristin

    He's only saying outloud what most people are thinking in their head. Good for him to speak what is on his mind. Yes, the president does deserve some respect but when facts don't add up, people need to speak up! This is what we elect these representatives to do...speak on our behalf! it may have not been the right setting, but I'm still glad someone finally said something!

    September 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. Nea

    SO DISRESPECTFUL! He did apoligize for the outburst, even though he said that he apoligize becaus his colleuges told him to. I have never seen anyone be so disrepectful towards a President before while he speaks in front of tv. I just find it amazing that the Republicans are saying one thing and the media is saying something else. Even though there may have been 2 bills out there thats why the confusion.But from what i understand is that it will not cover illegal immigrants.

    September 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. Casey | Ruth, CA

    Yeah, "spontaneously" stupid.

    Illegal immigrants currently get free health care because they can go to any hospital and be treated for emergenies or apply for CMSP... that may not change with any reform, but maybe it will, because the new proposals would likely require illegals to purchase insurance.

    Anyway, this is yet another Republican who is stuck on stupid.

    I'm waiting for the south to declare their intent to secede... Oh, wait, didn't the idiot in Texas already suggest that (and no, I'm not talking about W)...

    September 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. Wendy Gibson

    Once again Congressman Joe Wilson has humiliated us, as if we needed our gooberocity paraded in public again after what we have endured from Mark Sanford. Joe says he disagrees with President Obama. Welcome to the world of people being represented by those with whom we disagree. For the last eight years or so, we've had to put up with George W. Bush, Mark Sanford, and Joe Wilson. But we still have to behave in public. It's what our mothers taught us.

    Wendy Gibson
    Barnwell, SC

    September 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. keish

    hilarious...what a jerk...may be career suicide. It looked like something you see overseas at their elections and speeches, how they throw things and disrespect their leaders. I can truly say that some of these present day republicans are no better than Al Quida, they are the terrorist within our own camp. Its their way or no way at all. Never should anyone on this land disrespect our commander in chief, white or black. They want to talk about being patriotic all the time well that definitely was not. You can disagree with him but you shouldnt lose your mind in the process.

    September 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Paul from Phoenix

    This guy is an idiot, but too much focus is being paid to this. Let's focus on the fact that the President still didn't lay out any specific numbers in how he plans to pay for his program.

    I am sick of hearing that money will be used from this program and that program. Show me the specific numbers. Then, I will decide if I like the program.

    If you can't show specific numbers, then I believe this program is a sham.

    September 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Bob Jamieson

    Regardless of what party you support, the congressman outburst displayed a complete disrespect for the position, the president and to the American people who elected him. The congessman should be censured and I hope the good people of South Carolina will let him know of their disapproval of his infantile behavior. In addition, I hope his kids, if he has any, were watching to see their father in action. What a disgrace.
    Where is sometng spontaneous – He is a nincomoop.

    September 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Jim Lopresti

    OK. He made a dumb and disrespectful comment. Add it to the list of "spontaneous" absurdities coming from the right wing. Their knee jerk negativism is rampant. But we can we please STOP talking about his comment. It is becoming an unnecessary distraction from the real work of reform. There is too much soap opera news and not enough public enlightenment already. Getting mired in slurs and political flubs is no place to congregate on such an important matter

    September 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. BJones

    Congratulations to Joe – I am donating to his campaign. It is about time some of the Republican Congressmen stood up to the dictator.
    CNN is in bed with Obama. I was a Vet for then years when CNN people were sucking their thumbs. I have many Democratic friends and they truly feel the same way. We are all Americans and tired of the dictator.

    Go get 'em Joe!

    September 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. jm for sc

    There is not civil grounds for this man. If Republican leadership had to ask him to apologize, then he was not sincere. His only regret is that he did not get the standind ovation he thought he would get. If this was "spontaneous" then the disrespect was in his heart.

    What proof does he have to validate his claim? I bet he never even read the bill.

    September 10, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. Trent Jones

    I came to CNN to learn about what President Obama said about the future of health care in America. Instead all the coverage that I can find is about a random heckler who said two words. That's interesting, but not important news. Please cover the important issues that affect us as Americans, not the sideshows that have no relevance.

    September 10, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. Shirley In California

    He's a liar and a racist. It was carefully calculated and he would never had done that to any of the previous presidents. It was disrespectful and unnecessary. Pres. Obama should have had him put thrown out but as usual he chose to take the high road.

    Just when I thought the republicans could not stoop any lower – they did. Any respect I had left for that party disappeared last night. I hope they never take the WH in my lifetime again.

    September 10, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Laurie

    Congressman Wilson's outburst was not spontaneous. A child saying something that they should not in front of company is spontaneous. Swearing when you accidently hit your fingers with a hammer is spontaneous. Congressman Wilson's outburst was an extension of behavior that the Republican Party has espoused since our President was elected. The Republicans have purposely spread malicious lies, rumors, and have been unwilling to try to improve the situation in our country. They have incited mob behavior at Town Halls and it is my belief that Congressman Wilson forgot that he was at a Joint Session of Congress listening to the President of the United States give an address regarding health care reform. Rather he thought he was surrounded by his birthers, deathers, and gun toting constituents at a Town Hall. No excuse for his behavior. Hang your head Congressman Wilson. If I had a million dollars, I would donate it all to your opponent. Your shame is on your sleeve now. Live with it.

    September 10, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. Rara

    What an Idiot!!

    September 10, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Erlinda Brent

    If Mr. Wilson worked for a large or small corporation, he would be looking for a new job today. I am listening and waiting for calls of his resignation. There are appropriate avenues to take if he disagrees with the President's speech. (Obviously, he does.) Yelling, "Liar" during Mr. Obama's speech is the wrong way.

    I wish people would start respecting Mr. Obama. Reporters asking his opinion on a professor being arrested in his own home, Mr. Wilson's behavior during Mr. Obama's speech, among other things, are nothing but distractions. Mr. Obama is our President, he is a gentleman, and people have to stop wasting his time with silly behavior.

    September 10, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. AJP

    I come from the old school where you were taught to have respect for others in a setting like last night.

    It wasn't just Joe Wilson, there were others with signs. I cannot believe what the Republicans are doing. If I had done such a thing in high school I would have had to stay after school in study hall.
    'I think those doing this sort of childish actions need to read a book on manners and how to act in public.

    Shame on them..

    September 10, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Wise Latina

    Dems booed and heckled President Bush's speech before congress, and as usual they want to have everything both ways. The State-controlled media is once again providing excellent cover for these hypocritical loony libs...

    September 10, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. Way to go Joe

    We all want to be civil. I imagine no one was more surprised than Joe Wilson at his very bad manners and very rude outburst, in calling President Obama a Liar.

    My manners were just as deplorable. I sat in my recliner, flipping off my TV set. I just had to vent. I know how you feel Joe.. we forgive you. we know you won't let it happen again. Just keep speaking up for WE THE PEOPLE. Just remember the next time you expose a Liar to his face, be sure to say "You are a Liar, Sir"

    September 10, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Joe

    Wilson is a major recipient of contributions from the health care industry.

    In fact, over his entire congressional career, health professionals represent Wilson’s top industry contributors, donating a total of $244,196 to his campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics database.

    He received another $86,150 from pharmaceutical companies, $73,050 from insurance companies and $68,000 from hospitals and nursing homes.

    September 10, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  21. beachgirl

    BOLOGNE BOLOGNE BOLOGNE Wilson, you are another MORON Republican just like those people at the town meetings, waiting to be DISRESPECTFULL, ANGRY, UNEDUCATED Republican. You encourage those morons to behave that way SHAME ON YOU and you represent South Carolina?????????? shame on you!!!

    Democrats and Obama had told the American people, we are entitled to agree and disagree but WE MUST TALK and find a solution to the problem........with you Wilson, IT'S IMPOSIBLE TO TALK, or to find a solution SHAME SHAME SHAME ON YOU.

    September 10, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. Dee

    What a deplorable display of the lack of bi-partisanship from the republicans!!!! This man and his constituents should be embarrassed and ashamed!! Where is Wilson's plan for reforming the health insurance mess? I doubt he even knows why he was elected, other than it provides his family with really good health insurance!!!!!

    September 10, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. mary stukes

    he was out of order and showed no respect to the commander in chief he should do more than apologize to the white house.
    he should not be in politics with that kind of outburst.

    September 10, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. Marta

    I don't know why anyone would be surprised by Wilson's conduct. The Republicans have been promoting this bullying, disrespectful behavior for a long time, in town halls and on television. I admire President Obama for attempting to work across the aisle to get legislation passed, but I think the Republicans have no intention of working with the President to pass meaningful reform. I am happy to hear the Republicans criticizing Wilson for his inappropriate behavior, but I also found the Republicans holding up signs and papers, during the speech disgraceful. The American people need them to fix health care, not defend the insurance industry. You simply can't have a civilized discussion, when you are dealing with the Republican bullet points that have no basis in truth.

    September 10, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Yes Wilson was out of line, but before all you liberals express your phony outrage consider that in both the 2004 and 2005 State of the Union addresses Bush was booed by Democrats. Also Harry Reid has publically called Bush a liar, a loser and the worst president we've ever had. He's only apologized for the loser comment and stands behind the others. Democrats gave Code Pink and Cindy Sheehan tickets to the last Bush inauguration in hopes they would disrupt the event. So pleeeeease, don't give me the 'Democraps have respect' line.

    September 10, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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