Obama heckler not to apologise further
The lawmaker who shouted "You lie!" at President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress said on Sunday that moves to censure him were politically motivated and vowed not to make a further apology.world Updated: Sep 14, 2009 08:11 IST
The lawmaker who shouted "You lie!" at President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress said on Sunday that moves to censure him were politically motivated and vowed not to make a further apology.
Republican Congressman Joe Wilson has already apologised to the president -- and had that apology accepted -- but still faces a reprimand if he fails to stand up publicly before his peers in the House of Representatives and do so again.
"I am not going to apologise again. I apologized to the president on Wednesday night," Wilson told Fox News. "People know my civility, they know that this was a one-time event and was out of frustration."
Leaders of the Democrat-led House have threatened to rebuke Wilson if he fails to issue a formal apology on the chamber floor, saying his outburst during Wednesday's keynote Obama speech on health care reform was a shocking breach of decorum.
A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said members of Congress would look to pursue a motion of disapproval -- a less harsh reprimand than a formal censure -- now that Wilson had made his position absolutely clear.
"Obviously what he said on Fox News was quite clear. Early in the coming week will be a leadership discussion and then there will be an announcement," spokesman Drew Hammill said.
Obama, in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" program aired on Sunday, reiterated his acceptance of Wilson's apology and said pursuing further measures would be counter-productive.
"It just becomes a big circus instead of us focusing on health care," he said.
Obama also lamented "a coarsening of our political dialogue" and said: "In the era of 24-hour cable news cycles... the loudest, shrillest voices get the most attention."
Wilson, a conservative who represents a district in the southern state of South Carolina, decried what he said were partisan efforts to change the topic of conversation away from the unpopularity of the president's health reform efforts.
"It's politics. This is exactly what the American people do not want to see, do not want to hear," he said. "As the White House advised, let's get to the issues."
Wilson's outburst came at a point in Obama's speech when the president declared that illegal immigrants would not be covered under his proposed health care reforms.
Despite his apology, Wilson has since insisted that he had some justification for his outburst. "I believe in the truth. What I heard was not true," he told Fox News.
Wilson conveyed his apology by telephone late Wednesday to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
His outburst has earned him financial support from likeminded constituents and supporters from around the country, according to CNN which reported Sunday that he has raised at least one million dollars in contributions since Wednesday.
The contributions came after Wilson directly asked in a Web video for campaign cash to fend off attacks from political opponents.
His top Democratic rival in the 2010 midterm, Rob Miller, has also seen a boost in donations, raking in a similar amount following the speech, CNN said.