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. Revisionist history buff

    Mr. Gibb: Biden meant what he said. Quit trying to insult me and the public by telling us "what he meant to say." Leave it alone and quit trying to remake it. We all know he is a total dud.

    April 30, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. RLA

    I heard what Joe Biden said directly from his mouth and what the White House interpreted as what "he meant to say" isn't even close. Funny how the explanations are "spun" when there's a negative reaction. IF no one had said anything about Mr. Biden's comments, I doubt we'd heard "Correction: what he meant to say was....".

    But also, what do you expect from Mr. Biden. He's known to shoot off at the mouth. Scary that he's a heart beat away from being President.

    Now...if we could just get the White House Press Secretary Gibbs to quit saying "uhhhh" so much. Maybe he needs some stimulus help on his vocabulary.

    April 30, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Chris


    April 30, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. KC

    Another apology? What are we averaging......three to four apologies a week out of this administration? Maybe, just maybe, if you put some thought into your staff selection you wouldn't be having these problems. Next time, pick decent, intelligent people and not just people to whom you "owe a debt".

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

    I truley hope this administration is not so out of touch with the REAL America that they actually think we believe this BS. Robert Gibbs is working overtime trying to spin incredible leaps of white LIES about Obama bowing to other leaders and Biden's big mouth. Honesty is not in their playbook I guess. Rookies!

    April 30, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  6. bj, Texas

    What else is new for this inept administration except to offer appologies for everything they do. How about applogizing for ruining our country?

    April 30, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  7. Vin

    Joe Biden is a mess....and 1 step from the Presidency! YIKES!!!!!

    April 30, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  8. Miltrez

    Typical...Democrat opening his mouth before thinking on the consequences...What a goof...And to think we are in store for 3 more years of this wonderfully inept right-hand not agreeing with left-hand syndrome of the White House...I love it!!

    April 30, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  9. Gaffester

    Whether you lean left or right, you have to admit it's embarrasing when the White House is constantly cleaning up after the Vice President. You've got a President who is all about image and a VP who is clueless about it.

    April 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. charles skee

    Do we have another Spiro Agnew as a VP? First we scare people with a strafing run over NYC by AirForce 1 and now tell people not to be in crowded or confined places do to this pig flu. What's next, ask all the illegals to go home and fight the pig flu for us? Didn't we already set a low enough standard of leadership with the Bush administration? It's sad when people are embarrassed to be US citizens.

    April 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. Frustrated

    Why does the White House believe they have to clarify what VP Biden was saying. I think it was pretty clear to everyone who heard what he said. Stay away from crowded closed in areas. Maybe it's Gibbs that needs the clarification caused he clearly did not understand what the VP said. And why is it that Biden couldn't clarify his own remarks if that was the case? Maybe he might say something else the White House or Gibbs did not agree with? Our Government is clueless and totally out of touch with society and each other in Washington. Were doomed, bring on the virus with hopes the first major outbreak starts in Washington DC.

    April 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. TomJay

    Go Joe go.

    April 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. James

    You know, Biden and Gibbs are the gifts that just keep on giving. I enjoy watching the montague on Hannity every night of Gibbs trying to answer a question about the stupidity of this administration. In two days we have photo op in NY (which cost tax payers close to 380K) of Air Force One, which Obama knew nothing about (yeah.....right?) and now Biden with the fearmongering. It is really unbeliveable.

    April 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. John G

    He's right. What a ridiculous apology to appease the travel industry. Anyone who has been on a plane in the last two or three years knows that they are absolutely filthy inside, with more than just swine flu hovering around.

    April 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. State of Tennessee

    Oooh Joooe! Don't worry about it! It's not as if Obama hasn't had a lot of practice apologizing already. I can't wait for someone to make an Obama wobble head doll that just randomly says "Sorry about that". It needs to wobble insead of bobble because one's head wobbles when alternating between two teleprompters constantly.

    April 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  16. Miguel

    White House apologizes for Biden's comments. Never heard that before.

    April 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. Joel

    If President Bush had said this, we would never have hear the end of it!

    April 30, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. Joseph Shelley

    Seems as if the White House is apologizing every other week now! What the heck is going on?? Can't you people get it right?? First the Head of the Dept of Homeland Security. Now this! What the heck??

    April 30, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  19. stillsupportspresident

    Aw poor Joe. Smart and caring guy but has "foot in mouth" disease. He has to watch what he says as Joe the man versus Joe the VP.

    April 30, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. fred

    Gibbs, we're not dumb. Biden said he told his FAMILY not to travel. Are they sick? NO. It's simple. Biden meant what he said and said it without thinking that, oh, if people stop traveling, our economy would be killed. And Gibbs wants to cover up Biden's lack of thought.

    April 30, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. Dave Hicks

    Is everybody in Washington and the Pentagon except Obama just stupid, or on drugs? The fly over of NY was incredible. Biden's comments on The Today Show are beyond believe! How out of touch and clueless can they get? Film at 11 ......

    April 30, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. eloise

    Enough of the apologies already. Biden said it and that's that. Since when does the public do what it's told anyway? What are folks going to do, stay away from their jobs because Biden made a remark? Don't apologize, Mr. President. You haven't done anything wrong.

    April 30, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. Alan

    I think Joe Biden is slowly learning about the shark feeding frenzy that makes up most of the news media. Someone in high office has to watch every step, think carefully about each spoken word, or the news media will grab the ball and run with it. Accuracy in reporting the news, isn't nearly as important as a headline grabbing story.

    April 30, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. j.r.

    they really needed to apologize over that?

    April 30, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  25. Vince, Jupiter, Florida

    Joe is a good guy. All he was doing was stating the obvious. It’s just unfortunate that no one has come up with a way to disinfect airplanes after each flight.

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