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GOP Rep. calls Obama a liar, apologizes

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GOP Rep. calls Obama a liar, apologizes
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) checks his phone after yelling out during President Barack Obama's speech on healthcare reform before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on September 9, 2009. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., apologized Wednesday for calling President Barack Obama a liar during the president's address to a joint session of Congress.

During an address on healthcare, Obama challenged claims opponents have been making about proposals to reform healthcare. He said some Americans' concerns about reform proposals "have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost."

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The president rejected claims that reform proposals would establish "panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens," and said the allegation "would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible."

"It is a lie, plain and simple," Obama said.

After he said a claim that healthcare reform would insure illegal immigrants was "false," Wilson shouted, "You lie."

Wilson, who was booed by others in the House chamber, later apologized for the outburst.

"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 healthcare bill," he said. "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."

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Wilson contacted White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who accepted an apology on behalf of Obama, The New York Times reported. Emanuel said he reached out to GOP leaders after the speech, urging them to identify the heckler and have him apologize quickly, the Times said.

"No president has ever been treated like that. Ever," Emanuel said.

Some Democrats, noting that healthcare reform proposals being considered specifically exclude illegal immigrants, said Wilson's outburst was evidence some Republicans do not want constructive dialogue on the issue, the Times said.

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