Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) on Thursday reiterated that he was wrong for interrupting President Obama's speech last night but stood behind his claim that Obama lied about providing healthcare to illegal immigrants.
Wilson's discussion with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity was his first interview since the incident. He canceled other public appearances today after receiving heavy criticism from members of both parties in Congress.
"I shouldn't have spoken out," Wilson told Hannity. "I want to have a civil discussion on the entire healthcare bill."
The fifth-term Republican said that he called the White House immediately after the speech to apologize. Earlier today, Wilson said House Republican leaders suggested he apologize after the incident.
Wilson, however, was more defiant about the content of Obama's speech than he was in his apology last night. He insisted the bill contains provisions that would offer insurance coverage to illegal aliens.
"When the president said that it would not apply to illegal aliens, he was just wrong," said Wilson.
The Education and Labor Committee member also endorsed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's (R) claim that the bill includes government "death panels" that would determine end-of-life issues for terminal patients. Wilson said it presented a "conflict of interest" for doctors advising such patients.
"These issues need to be brought out," he said.
Wilson's Democratic opponent Rob Miller has raked in campaign contributions, collecting over $400,000 in donations since Wednesday night. But Wilson told Hannity that his constituents have been "overwhelmingly supportive" of him.
"They are appreciative that I am speaking up, that I am passionate on the issue...that i have read
the bill," he said.
Hannity brought up the possibility of Wilson having a "beer summit" with Obama similar to Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s reconciliation with the officer that arrested him at his home in July.
"Hey, I'm happy to meet with anyone, anytime," Wilson said.