April 30th, 2009
08:22 PM ET
6 years ago

White House apologizes for undue alarm over Biden comments

(CNN) - The White House apologized Thursday "if anybody was unduly alarmed" by Vice President Joe Biden's comments that seemed to suggest Americans should avoid air travel or confined spaces of any kind.

"What the vice president meant to say was the same thing that many members have said in the last few days," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "And that is, if you feel sick, are exhibiting flu-like symptoms….that you should take precautions, that you should limit your travel."

In an appearance on NBC's Today Show earlier Thursday, Biden said he had urged his family not to go "anywhere in confined places now."

Related video: Biden flu gaffe off message

"I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, (be) suggesting they ride the subway. … So from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that's one thing, if you're in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom it's a different thing," he said.

Biden appeared on a round of morning shows Thursday, including appearances on CBS, NBC and ABC, but declined to appear on CNN.

His office quickly released a statement saying that he was referring to those people already exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Gibbs echoed that sentiment in his press briefing Thursday.

"I know what he said, and I am telling you what he meant to say," he said.


Filed under: Extra • Joe Biden
soundoff (242 Responses)
  1. guyksk from Toronto

    I endorse Biden

    April 30, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. shark from chicago

    dont you see airplane and subway travel will not make money and thats what this ecomomy doesnt need... ITS AT THE COST OF OUR HEALTH WE KEEP ALL TRANSIT OPEN !!!!

    GO JOE BIDEN

    April 30, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  3. c spurgeon

    He and his wife need to put a lid on it, How many times will he embarass his boss before he zips it, I think he has value but his mouth often undermines it.

    April 30, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. Dayahka

    What's this, the sensationalistic item for the day? Why does everything that Biden says have to be blown out of proportion? Why spend time covering real news when you could be dealing with trivialities, is that it?

    April 30, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. jenny

    The WH certainly spends a great deal of time apologizing for stupid stuff that comes out of the mouths of complete morons, doesn't it?

    April 30, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. lynne

    not a problem – he speaks the truth. Amazing – a forthright politician!
    Nice Job, VP Biden! You have my full support.

    April 30, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. Rick

    The shocking thing about this is not that Joe Biden said something stupid but that Robert Gibbs knew enough to be able to comment on it.

    April 30, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. faith

    Republicans are not used to apologize.......what a bunch of liers!

    April 30, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  9. Chad

    This administration scares me more and more every day. No clear message, mistake after mistake, throwing taxpayers money at companies filing for Chapter 11. Common sense is dead at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    April 30, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. Rich

    It seems to me that since the WHO has moved the pandemic warning level to 5 of 6, that VP Biden's remarks are appropriate. Offices are told to put their pandemic plans in place etc. Who is the WH kidding?

    April 30, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Dan Lemmons

    You ain't heard nothin' yet! Joe Biden walks around with his foot in a bucket all of the time. Gotta love it.

    April 30, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. Ray Fisher

    Biden simply expressed a little common sense averse to the greedy companies which would rather turn a profit on the lives of others. So let our Vice President speak freely because the fraudsters have already received their bailouts!!!

    April 30, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. theMark

    I like Joe Biden, think he's great.

    I was telling my friends during the campaign, the typical Biden speech is to just let him talk until he (or someone else) has to apologize for something he said.

    It's OK, no harm done. Not an issue here.

    April 30, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. Ann

    There is no need for an apology. We understood the practical advice from Vice President Biden. He and the President are doing an amazing job juggling crisis after crisis.

    April 30, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. august

    "Meant" to say. Wow, that's bordering on the absurd. We all heard what he said and he wasn't really that grey on the matter. Now they're changing his story with a "what he MEANT to say..." line. Do they really think we're that stupid. Oh wait, they really do.

    April 30, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. Shari

    Stop apologizing for someone who actually is telling the truth!

    April 30, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. Butch Dillon

    It was wrong to apologize for Biden's remarks since they were perfectly spoken and perfectly accurate. Thanks for being honest Joe!

    April 30, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. Chad

    If VP Cheney would have said what Biden said then all you Obama supporters would be unhinged.

    April 30, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  19. inofritzn

    this administration is as bad as the Bush guys on trying to re-write/redo history to cya.... /cry

    April 30, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  20. Chris

    As an American Government teacher, my seniors (with their five days left) will have a field day with his suggestion that they should avoid enclosed places, including classrooms. I can just hear them now, "Well, Joe Biden said we shouldn't even be in school."

    Thanks for making my job a little easier, Mr. Vice President! I really appreciate it!

    April 30, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  21. Robin

    Wow, First the CIA and now Biden.

    Obama does not care who who throws under the bus.

    April 30, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. Bill

    Yes, no apology needed.

    Mr. VP Biden should've also continued to say that if you happen to be in the near vicinity of anyone who speaks Spanish, you should cover you nose and mouth and leave the area immediately.

    I'm sure he had also told his family to do that too.

    And, Gibbs would've added ""And that is, if they exhibit flu-like symptoms….that you should take precautions, that you should limit your exposure."

    April 30, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. Grace Nau

    I can hear, and I can read, I am a High School Graduate. I do not need the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs telling me what Joe Biden ment to say .....he is telling us his opinion...can he not have an opinion since he is the Vice-President....I would be insulted if I were Joe Biden. The White House should have stayed out of it.

    April 30, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  24. Texas Annie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    Gee, I thought his comment made total sense.

    April 30, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  25. Mike from NJ

    Aren't you Repubs the ones who say you "want it straight," and hate "Political Correctness"? You liked it when that beauty pageant contestant spoke HER mind, right? And you didn't like it when people blasted her for it, right?

    Well, like it or not, Joe's a guy who speaks HIS mind, right or wrong. So step off, those fo you who want the HONEST truth, he's telling it like HE sees it!

    Love ya, Joe! [And Joe, Tone it down some, will ya? ;)]

    April 30, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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