April 30th, 2009
08:22 PM ET
13 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. Mari( maybe one of my comments will be posted)



    April 30, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. Gordon Shumway

    Thank you, Vice President Wright.

    April 30, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Mike

    You may always have to put a spin on what Joe says! I do love Obama though... he's great!

    April 30, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. Davy Jones

    Now we know why he is kept in the basement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 30, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Jon

    robert gibbs is the biggest liar in DC. I saw Biden's bumbling interview and he clearly made the statement that he would not fly or use public transportation because of swine flu. Gibbs thinks he's a character in 1984 and can just go back and change history despite what millions of people saw and heard.

    April 30, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. Shirley Brown

    I agree with Biden. I think the White House is foolish and too interested in promoting commerce rather than taking precaution.

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

    How many times is the Obama administration going to have to apologize for someone running their mouths?

    April 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. Oh well

    Ole big mouth Joe strikes again.
    Open one mouth and insert two feet.
    What an embarrassment this guy has become for the new admin.

    April 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  9. A

    How many times do we have to be told what Vice President Biden "meant" to say?

    April 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. Lavidaloca

    Right, the VP said what he said on the Today Show. How much $$ has the Democrats spent today, just trying to fix, modify the truth. The VP spoke and that's it, whether you like it or not.

    April 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Willie C Fields Jr

    Once again the VP has put his foot in his mouth. I listen to remarks by the VP and only hope that the Pres. can contain him or he be asked to resign. God forbid a Biden administration.

    April 30, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. Cynthia

    I'm tired of the White House apologizing for others and besides that what Joe Biden said was his own personal response to what he is doing for his own personal health and who could blame him.

    April 30, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. Observant

    I appreciated VP Biden comments because I feel the same way about my family.

    April 30, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  14. BillH

    I heard Biden's remarks and I thought they were appropriate. Reasonable people will disagree. I've already heard several experts giving conflicting remarks. If Biden's remarks differ from that given by NIH or the CDC, so be it. There's plenty of advice out there: take your pick. I don't understand why it's such a big deal that Biden's comments didn't follow the NIH/CDC recommendations. Given my choice, I'd follow Biden's.

    April 30, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. richard miller

    Why does the media and the ultra cons have to make an issue out of every remark made by someone connected with the White House? I haven't flown since TSA was invented as I cannot stand the creepy rent a cops that think they are Rambos.

    April 30, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. Denine

    Yes, god forbid, we speak frankly. Someone might lose some cash. Greedy frickin' Americans. Money is more important than human lives. Thank you, Mr. Biden, for being the voice of candor in our pathetic country.

    April 30, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Swishhhh

    DUH!!! If people don't have enough common sense to know you have to wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, stay home and out of airplanes and elevators if you're getting sick – then don't go lookin' to blame Joe for reiterating what any kindergartner knows.

    April 30, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. Rob, Ohio

    I hope the White House guy is practicing...he's going to be doing this "apology", "what he really meant to say was" thing a lot.

    The luster is quickly coming off the rose of this administration. It's too early to see the devastating impact on the country of what the Dems are doing, but rest assured we will before too long. And at some point, even the most starry-eyed, fanatic, "Obama Can Do No Wrong, He's the Greatest President Ever" people will realize he ain't all that.

    April 30, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. Kitty

    One bozo deserves another!!! LOL

    Obama and Biden deserve one another!!! LOL

    Who needs SNL with these two on stage!!!!! LOL

    April 30, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  20. John from LA

    News flash.......We're going to be seeing more apologies from BO and Staff-with regards to BLOWHARD BIDEN!!!!-and this man is one heartbeat away from the Presidency-hmmmmmmmm-poor choices from both sides last November!

    I can't wait to hear the chorus-"I didn't vote for him"-and for you novices to politics-this phrase ALWAYS comes about 2 years into a presidential term-same old politics-just new names at 1600 Penn. Ave.

    April 30, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  21. kem

    I think Joe meant to say just what he did say. He was being honest about his feelings on the flu. Unfortunatly, when one is the Vice, they need to not say everything that they think in their head.

    April 30, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  22. indiana voter

    Just admit that Biden said a stupid thing, apologize, and then move on. Why do they have to try and put words in Biden's mouth by saying" what he meant to say..." and try to make it sound like he is saying something he didn't say? Even if it is what he meant to say, he didn't say that.

    April 30, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  23. tom

    They sure do have to explain the VP's comments alot.

    April 30, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  24. singh

    I think the Vice President spoke truthfully from his heart when asked how he would advise family on this issue. I don't think the White House should rush to apologize because the travel industry is afraid it will lose money due to Biden's remarks. Maybe his remarks will save someone's life or someone's job who cannot afford to be out of work sick.

    April 30, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. jokee

    1 Heart beat away.

    April 30, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
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