Washington Post’s Tom Shales says Obama “came across like Jimmy Stewart in ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’: a bright-eyed young idealist up against entrenched power, old ideas and obstructionism. It was also a chance for Obama to go on national television and look presidential again, asserting himself in ways that helped make up for the past few months of perceived defensiveness, of appearing to kowtow to other powers, and of seeming to do more following than leading.”
More: “One heckler, Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, shouted out, ‘You lie!’ Again, the contrast worked to Obama's advantage; he looked and sounded calm and rational, though certainly assertive, while moblike voices railed defiantly against him.”
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg conducted a focus group/dial test on President Obama's health-care speech with 50 independents in Denver, CO — half who voted for Obama last fall and half who voted for John McCain. In a conference call with reporters to discuss the findings, Greenberg said that before the speech, 23 of these independents supported Obama's call for reform, 23 opposed it, and four were undecided. After the speech, the number who said they supported reform jumped from 23 to 33.
Vice President Biden said Joe Wilson's outburst "demeaned the institution." He said he was "embarrassed for the chamber and a Congress I love."
Eric Cantor: "Obviously, the President of the United States is always welcome on Capitol Hill. He deserves respect and decorum. … I know that Congressman Wilson has issued an apology and made his thoughts known to the White House, which was the appropriate thing to do."
John McCain called the outburst "totally disrespectful." "There is no place for it in that setting, or any other, and he should apologize for it immediately," he said.
Rep. Joe Wilson's 2010 opponent has received more than $100,000 in contributions overnight