COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - President Barack Obama's speech to the joint session of Congress about the state of his health care reform efforts have taken a back seat in the Palmetto State to what Rep. Joe Wilson said during the speech.
While the president discussed that no illegal immigrants would be covered under his plan, Wilson yelled out, "You lie!"
The remark drew immediate fire from those in the chambers as boos could be heard as Obama responded to the outburst.
Wilson apologized shortly after the speech by issuing a statement.
"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill," said Wilson. "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."
President Obama accepted Wilson's apology on Thursday.
Obama says Wilson apologized "quickly and without equivocation." He adds he's a big believer that "we all make mistakes."
Wilson has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans for using the chambers of Congress during a joint session to speak his views.
Fellow South Carolinian and lawmaker Senator Lindsey Graham made his disappointment with Wilson known.
"The president's combative tone did not justify a Member of Congress shouting out 'you lie,' said Graham. "Our nation's president deserves to be treated with respect. It was an inappropriate remark and I am glad an apology has been made."
Vice President Joe Biden said the congressman's outburst during President Obama's health care speech "demeaned the institution."
Appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday, Biden said the incident made him "embarrassed for the chamber and a Congress I love."
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor told ABC the president "deserves respect and decorum" and it was appropriate for Wilson to apologize.
When asked this morning whether Wilson should face sanctions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "It's time for us to talk about health care, not Mr. Wilson."
Wilson's remark has also made ripples in the South Carolina political scene. His son, Alan, is running for attorney general.
The Lexington prosecutor spoke with the congressman twice since reaction to the outburst began pouring in.
"He called Rahm Emanuel last night and apologized to Rahm Emanuel and the White House and it is my understanding that they accepted the apology," said Alan.
Alan adds that people have been either upset or happy about Rep. Wilson's venue to express his outrage.
"I think it was right for him to apologize for choosing the venue he used in which to speak in, but people need to be discussing the subject of what was being discussed," said Alan.
The comment has also made waves in Democratic challenger Rob Miller's campaign.
The former US Marine claims that he has raised over $350,000 after Wilson's remark.
Jessica Santillo of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says the money has come in from 10,000 individual contributions.