President Obama Accepts Rep. Joe Wilson’s Apology

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At the end of a cabinet meeting today, President Obama took a couple questions from reporters. The first:

Q    Do you accept Wilson’s apology, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  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.

That is right, to a point. Wilson apologized for his outburst, but in the same statement Wilson said that he still believes that Obama was spreading falsehoods about health reform’s benefits to illegal immigrants. “While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable,” is how Wilson put it. (Politifact has called Wilson claim that Obama lied “false.”)

Obama’s full remarks, including his openness for a phone call with Wilson, follows after the jump.

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.

We are all Americans; we all want to do best for our country.  We’ve got different ideas, but for the most part, we have the same aims, which is to make sure that people who work hard in this country and who act responsibly are able to get good jobs, good wages, raise their families, make sure those kids have a good education; that they are protected from misfortune or accident by having health care and retirement security in place; want to keep people safe — and that’s why our national security team is so important.

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.

Q    Will you talk with him if he decides to call you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I talk to everybody.