Obama says he accepts Wilson's apology

Meanwhile, the South Carolina Republican reveals his reason for saying he's sorry

Published September 10, 2009 5:15PM (EDT)

President Obama spoke with reporters after a Cabinet meeting Thursday. Of course, the first question to come up was about Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and the apology he made for shouting out "You lie!" during the president's speech Wednesday night.

Asked if he accepts Wilson's apology, Obama responded:

Yes, I do. I'm a big believer that we all make mistakes. He apologized quickly and without equivocation, and I'm appreciative of that.

I do think that, as I said last night, we have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big, important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name-calling, without the assumption of the worst in other people's motives ....

Our goals are generally the same, whether we're Democrats or Republicans, and in fact, most Americans don't even think about those labels all that much. They are turned off when they see people using wild accusations, false claims, name-calling, sharply ideological approaches to solve problems. They want pragmatism; they want people to stay focused on the job. And I hope that some of the fever breaks a little bit.

The media can always be helpful by not giving all the attention to the loudest or shrillest voices, and try to stay a little bit more focused on the issues at hand.

Wilson had his own talk with reporters on Thursday, as he was caught by television cameras. He took a few questions about what had happened, resulting in a very awkward interview -- Wilson looked and sounded very uncomfortable. He also revealed that his apology was prompted by Republican leadership. The video is below.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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