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Rep. Joe Wilson's response to Obama's speech: 'You lie!'

The South Carolina Republican apologizes afterward for his outburst during the president's address in the House chamber.

September 10, 2009|Richard Simon

WASHINGTON — When President Obama addressed Congress on Wednesday night, he got an unusual greeting: "You lie!"

The comment from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) could be heard throughout the House chamber in response to Obama's remark that his health insurance plan would not extend benefits to illegal immigrants.

"I've never seen anything like that before," said Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) "We do not invite the president of the United States into the House of Representatives and hurl insults."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the remark was "disrespectful" and called on Wilson to apologize.

"I let my emotions get the best of me," Wilson said in a statement after the speech. "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."

According to Wilson's office, he called the White House after the speech to apologize to Obama, speaking with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

The 62-year-old Wilson, who was elected to the House in 2001, previously found himself in the spotlight for attacking 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry over his 1971 testimony criticizing the Vietnam War.

Wilson has four sons, all of whom serve in the U.S. military. Before being elected to Congress, he served 17 years in the South Carolina state Senate.

On his website, he describes himself as "committed to promoting peace through a strong national defense, decreasing taxes for all Americans and limiting the size of the federal government."

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richard.simon@latimes.com

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