- The Washington Times - Monday, September 14, 2009

Republican Rep. Joe Wilson said Sunday he will ignore calls from Democrats demanding he apologize on the House floor for yelling “You lie!” during the president’s health care speech to Congress Wednesday, saying he already has said he is sorry.

“I am not going to apologize again,” the South Carolina lawmaker said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I’ve apologized one time. The apology was accepted by the president, by the vice president, who I know,” he said.

House Democratic leaders plan to propose a resolution of disapproval this week if Mr. Wilson doesn’t offer a formal mea culpa to Congress. That would put Congress on record as condemning his conduct.

AP VIDEO: Click here.

Mr. Wilson said the proposed resolution shows that Democrats are exploiting the situation for political gain and are trying to divert attention from a health care overhaul mired in congressional debate.

“This is playing politics,” he said. “This is exactly what the American people do not want to see, do not want to hear.”

The lawmaker called his outburst a one-time mistake and said he respects President Obama and his office.

“I would never do something like that again,” he said.

But Mr. Wilson said he still thinks that Mr. Obama was “misstating the facts” when he said illegal immigrants would not qualify for government health care, although he stopped short of again saying the president lied.

“I truly would have said it in a different way if I had time,” he said. “But what he said was not accurate.”

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Sunday said that, while hospital emergency rooms wouldn’t be forced to reject illegal immigrants under the president’s health care proposal - keeping the status quo intact - illegal immigrants would not have the ability to participate in the plan in any way.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t have to deal with the problem of illegal immigration, but it’s not being dealt with in health care reform,” he said.

Mr. Gibbs, however, declined to comment directly on the House Democrats’ proposed resolution to censure Mr. Wilson.

“I’m going to let the House figure out how to deal with that,” Mr. Gibbs said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “The president accepts, as I said, Joe Wilson’s apology.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he wanted to “see this matter end.”

“Joe’s a good man. He made a mistake,” said Mr. Graham on “Fox News Sunday.” “But what he said was inappropriate. This needs to come to the end for the good of Joe, South Carolina and the country. I’ll leave it up to his good counsel as to what to do next.”

Mr. Wilson wasn’t the only House Republican accused of bad behavior during the president’s address. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia was caught on camera using a BlackBerry during the speech, leading his hometown newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, to publish an editorial Sunday admonishing the lawmaker.

“Disrespect need not be intended to occur,” the editorial said. “The BlackBerry should have stayed in Cantor’s pocket.”

Mr. Cantor declined to comment directly on the incident when asked about it on “State of the Union.”

“The point really is to try and focus on what’s important here,” he said. “What’s important is, we’ve got to look to how we get this health care reform done right.”

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