September 9th, 2009
10:09 PM ET
13 years ago

GOP congressman heckles Obama during health-care speech

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Rep. Wilson the congressional heckler."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Republican House member shouted "you lie" during President Barack Obama's health-care speech to Congress on Wednesday, and members of both parties condemned the heckling.

When Obama denied that proposed health-care legislation would provide free health coverage for illegal immigrants, South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, "You lie!"

Obama paused and looked toward the Republican side of the chamber before
continuing his speech.

After the speech, Republican Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate defeated by Obama last year, called Wilson's outburst "totally disrespectful" and said he should apologize.

McCain said there was "no place for it in that setting or any other and he should apologize immediately."

Other Republicans also criticized Wilson, along with the expected Democratic condemnation.

"It was crude and disrespectful," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, a top Senate Democrat. "I think the person who said it will pay a price."

Updated: 10:00 p.m.

Filed under: Joe Wilson • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Andrew Gottschalk

    Even at the height of George Bush's unpopularity, he was never NEVER heckled by the Democrats during a speech. For Congressmen to act so childish, so disrespectful, so...evil says something about the Country in which we live today. Basically it was a speech about how we should all work together for the benefit of the Country, and the Republicans wouldn't even applaud for that. Very, very callous. Very, very sad.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  2. John Meissner

    Rep. Wilson should be censored by the house for his behavior tonight.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  3. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Speaker Pelosi is too kind.

    The South Carolina redneck, knuckle-dragging Wilson should be sanctioned.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  4. Nevada dude

    What a complete idiot. It is precisely this type of petulence displayed by the republican party that makes them despised.

    desperate and without useful ideas, all they could do is name-call in the most immature and embarrassing way. Republicans know their goose is cooked on this issue.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  5. Carolyn Carr

    I cannot believe that Rep.Joe Wilson would be so disrespectful to shout and call "Our President" a lie during his speech! Who the hell does he think he is? Why don't folks like him just open up and be honest. I don't believe he would have said that if he were disagreeing with George Bush during a speech. His comment was inappropriate and especially in that setting. People like Joe Wilson should just admit, he said it because he felt it was ok, because our President is a black man, someone he has been taught he does not have to respect!

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  6. SCgirl

    He represents my district...I'm ashamed. (Then again, SC hasn't had much to be proud of lately...)

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  7. Adam C.

    Can we get that loon censured? Since when is it appropriate for a member of the Congress to heckle the President by calling him a liar during a joint address? If this had been a Democrat doing that to W, they would have been exiled, hung upside down ...on a cross, and set on fire. Where is the outrage? What happened to all of the "You have to respect the POTUS?" bull? Guess it doesn't count for a black Democrat, right?

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  8. JP

    The heckler is an embarassment to his district. He should resign in favor of someone who knows how to disagree without sounding like a zoo animal.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  9. Greg

    I've never seen such behavior during a presidential address to congress.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  10. Nancy Lee

    Sen. Dick Durbin is wrong, Rep. Joe Wilson will not pay a price for his crude, disrespectful outburst during the president's address. He will be hailed by all the media wing-nuts like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity as a great "patriot" for having the "courage to speak his convictions".
    I am glad there are still some decent Republican members like McCain and Snowe who will try to show some decency and can still work as the LOYAL opposition. However, the villification of President Obama by so many of the Republican members of Congress is a disgrace. They are paid to serve as members of Congress and I would hope they would do more to earn their pay then just saying "no" to everything the president proposes.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  11. Wanda

    i was appalled by this elected official who i feel very strongly was unprofessional and disrespectful. it was totally inappropriate. i grew up in sc and the people of sc should be outraged and embarrassed of this individual's behavior.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. doro

    A new hero for Rush and Glenn, and another pathetic excuse for a human being. The vile behavior of the right makes it clear that they no longer have any core principles. They cannot argue without screaming because once voices are lowered and mob tactics are suspended, they have nothing at all to say.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  13. Danny

    Grow up Rep. Wilson, you are in Capitol Hill for Christ sake! It will be an ugly thing to watch you get grilled in the coming days and weeks. You will ultimately have to apologize and say what kind of moron you are, don't worry we already know.

    September 9, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  14. Tracy-Oakley


    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  15. Jo Gearhart

    Utterly shameful! Beyond rude. How can one of our lawmakers act in such a despicable manner? I am thoroughly disgusted!

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  16. mw from md

    How low class and disrespectful this outburst was! The hatred from the right is starting to boil over and these people are getting desperate.

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  17. Steve

    As bad as Bush was, no Democrat ever shouted out he was a liar.

    Another rageful Nopubulican LOSER!!!

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  18. jas

    I was shouting "you're a liar" at the exact same time and thought it went right through the tv. Scared me for a minute!

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  19. Alexis Watson

    This disrespect is becoming the "norm" for the New Republican Party.
    Look at what is going on in the town meetings! It is a sad that opposing opinions cannot be exchanged in a dignified manner

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  20. Jeff in SF

    What is it with South Carolina? Normal rules of behavior don't apply?

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  21. Anthony

    Even under Bush I would think that anything like that during a presidential speech to Congress would be out of line and completely disrespectful. I would like the Representative to point out the line that would guarantee benefits for illegals; oh wait! It specifically prohibits illegal aliens from participating in the program! Too bad they never taught the representative how to read in South Carolina...

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  22. Teri

    Agree to disagree but how dare he disrespect our President.. Public apology is in order.

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  23. Kansas Matters

    Joe Wilson

    are you serious? Grow up!

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. Tom Mason

    My God! How low can we go? During a joint Session, shouting at our Commander in Chief "You are a LIAR"??? During wartime???
    This Congressperson should be investigated as a terrorist!!

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  25. Rob

    Representative Wilson's outburst on the floor of Congress tonight was nothing short of an outrage. Regardless of ones' political affiliation or opinion regarding the President's health care proposal, there is no place for such conduct. I am stunned that a representative of our state would call our President a "liar" on the hallowed floor of Congress under any circumstance. This cavalier attack was a humiliating embarassment to the citizens of South Carolina and compromises the integrity of each and every citizen that Mr. Wilson represents. For a state already embroiled in scandal, the timing could not have been worse.

    An unequivical apology is in certain order, and should be issued immediately. There is absolutely no question that this incident will weigh heavy on the minds of voters in South Carolina. We should not tolerate such reckless unprofessionalism.

    September 9, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
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