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. Len Smith

    Good advice. I shall certainly take it. There is no need to apologize, just be careful. That is all that the VP was saying. Press get over it. Now you have a program for a few days, until you can change the subject.

    All be careful.

    April 30, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. Texas Annie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    Gee, I thought his comment made total sense.

    I'm about to get on a plane today for an EIGHT hour flight. I'm not exactly thrilled about the fact that I'll be confined in a tight space with 300+ other people for 8 hours. I've got my fingers crossed!

    April 30, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Tania

    What he said was obvious! Sheesh.

    April 30, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  4. Check Yourself

    That right there is almost Bush-like incompetency...

    April 30, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. Pat Horvath

    I like Joe Biden , maybe because he is not a reg. polictical smoothie, but more like the rest of us. He really is knowledgeable. I would like to see more of him. Last night polls on CNN I wanted to vote and comment but computer in another room. Today this is my take on our President: ... he is doing great, he is stately, intelligent and calm enough and confident enought to ans. questions on TV and address the people. I like how he represents me and my country. He can talk calmly with other Countries. All the above has not been since Pres. Clinton was in office.

    April 30, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  6. Andrew, Buffalo NY

    At least this ADMIN is good at one thing.... APPOLOGIZING!

    April 30, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. theo

    It is absolutely scary as heck that Joe Biden is a heartbeat away from the Presidency. God help us if something happened to BO....

    April 30, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Patriot

    You neocons can fly anywhere you want to....as long as it's a one-way trip out of the country.

    April 30, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  9. WC

    Swine flu is a total joke. Can't believe all you suckers fell for it!

    April 30, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. Sarah Palin

    You betcha I would not say something like that

    April 30, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. mark


    April 30, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. Dorthy from Kansas

    Thank you Joe for your honesty. I'll take YOUR comments to heart and stay home.

    April 30, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. Trish in ATL

    Funny how the White House is quick to apologize for Biden scaring people into not wanting to fly. Yet you have to pull teeth to get this administration to apologize for scaring thousands of New Yorkers with that Air Force One stunt.

    April 30, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Dennis

    Biden is a liability, constantly opening his mouth and inserting foot.

    April 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Proud DHS radical

    Anyone interested in starting a pool as to when Robert Gibbs will get the heave ho from Obama? As for Joe, Obama is stuck with him until they leave office in 2012.

    April 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. Barb

    I don't think Biden should apologize. He is tell the truth. Everyone is going on with life and acting like we are not in a health crisis. I think we should shut down all our borders due to Swine flu crisis. What is wrong with the people in today world. Wake up people!!!!!

    April 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. Randy Stefani

    The White House Press Secretary can spin it all he wants, but anyone who heard Biden knows what he said, and we know it is exactly what he meant to say. He clearly doesn't want his family on an airplane whether they are sick or not. This flu may turn out to be largely overhyped, since all strains carry substantial risks. But Biden has shown again that he can stick his foot in his mouth with the worst of them, and then instantly deny the obvious, making a very efficient case that he is both an alarmist and a liar. The change most people sought in the election was not politicians changing their words after they get in trouble for them. That's just more of the same.

    April 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. km in STL

    Instead of apologizing for what Biden said...maybe BO should apologize for choosing Biden in the first place.

    April 30, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  19. Jaye

    Joe Biden is telling us what they are saying behind our backs. Of course I am sure that the stock of Tamiflu has already been sent to the White House and to Congress for the people who think they are important. Another attempt by Gibbs to hide the truth from the citizens who elected Obama.

    April 30, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Jim in Florida

    The Vice President of the United States needs someone like Gibbs to tell the American people what he (Biden) really meant to say/


    My goodness, this bumch is running the country?

    April 30, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. Brett in DC

    You think Gibbs would be better off getting a nice sign that says "Sorry"...seems the White House is doing this often with his administration – Homeland, CIA, Veep, Treasury, even himself in NYC flyover...did I miss anyone?

    April 30, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. paul

    Sadly, just the first of many, many apologies the white house will have to give over the next 4 years on Biden's behalf........

    April 30, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. Chad

    36,000 die from the common flu every year. This Swine Flu is nothing different, just a lot of hype from the Obama Administration. It's a distraction to what they are doing behind the scenes as I speak. More gov't control of private companies and raising taxes. As Obama shows us his right hand, we better be paying attention to the left.

    April 30, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  24. Chi Town


    Looks like Joe (Forest Gump) opened his mouth again...

    Seem like this new White House has to say it's sorry pretty often... but then again... more and more Americans think it's getting more sorry daily... Ha

    April 30, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  25. Jim

    Imagine if Dan Quayle had made as many misstatements as Biden! The media keeps giving Biden a pass though. Some comment that the Republican Party is in decline and they're glad about that. The people want to be kept and want bread and circuses for all. They will always follow those that give them what they want from the public treasury not realizing it's similar to a dog eating its own tail.

    April 30, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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