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. Uncle Ellsworthy

    This administration apologizes for one thing or another so often they are going to be known for all eternity as the "Sorry Administration".
    Just sayin'.

    April 30, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. Realistic Democrat

    Again... Trying to appease everyone... Same flip-flop as usual...

    April 30, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Norman

    What's the big gefuffl?. Everybody knows politicians never mean what they say – or say what they mean.

    April 30, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  4. Martha Ireland

    Please, just stop it.

    Biden was right.

    We have to be careful, not paniced.

    Stop blaming Biden for speaking the truth.


    Martha Ireland

    April 30, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  5. Granny in the south

    There's an old saying: "If truth be told...' and he did.
    Unfortunately, he has that loose tongue.

    April 30, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. Golnaz

    This is so ridiculous that they have to apologize for Mr. Biden's comment!
    What is the big deal? He is honest, he is trying to warn people and he cares...I find it outrageous that they continue explaining what he meant. He meant what he said, and he is right.

    April 30, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. Juanita

    I think Joe Biden is the only one that is honest. Stop and think. Would you like to be on a plane with sick people? Peole flying on a plane get sick all the time from germs they contacted on the plane. Give Joe a break!

    April 30, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. Candy

    During the interview Matt Lauer prefaced his question to Biden saying that this was not a "gotcha" question but it was! Lauer asked Biden what he would advise his own family about travel at this time . His answer was not a statement issued by the White House but Joe Biden's opinion of what he would advise his own family. He's entitled to that! I think for the White House to apologize for his Joe Biden's "opinion" is ridiculous!

    April 30, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. Andy Griffith

    Lighten up....

    go have some pie......

    waterboard someone for a little while, it'll make you feel better

    April 30, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. Ohio Mom

    Who is the Vice President? Joe Biden or Robert Gibbs? Is Gibbs now the interpreter for VP Biden? Maybe Gibbs should follow Biden around so he can tells us what Biden "meant" to say everytime he makes a gaffe...!!!!!!! Gibb is a goof! Biden was just trying to help...but as usual he went a little too far for the media, and those that require public transportation for their livelihood.

    April 30, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. Mike, Syaracuse, NY

    What the White house needsa is an apology czar. Between Obama's worldwide apology tour and Biden's routine open-mouth-insert-foot they'll need it.

    April 30, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. Mike

    Of course they're apologizing. Obama doesn't want to be responsible for the collapse of a fragile airline industry when people stop flying because HIS #2 said what we're all thinking anyway.
    Remind me again why this administration is different than the past ones? They're thinking about saving their own ass just like a typical politician.

    April 30, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  13. Elizabeth

    In the name of all that's holy, I wouldn't want my family members on public transportation at this point in time either! The WHO raises the alert level to 5, Ft. Worth, Texas closes ALL schools because of one sick student, and you're kvetching because Vice President Biden said, in effect, "This is how it is at my house". Well, it's how it is at MY house, too. Jeez – could you report on something IMPORTANT do you think?

    April 30, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  14. Irritated

    I'm glad the administration realizes they are sorry.

    April 30, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. mark

    No big deal, but if you were a Rep. then i would have a problem.

    April 30, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. TyWebb

    Ridiculous. What Biden said was fine and truthful. Geez!

    April 30, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. Mike

    So if he meant to say only people with symptoms shouldn't fly then I guess his family is exhibiting symptoms since he told them not to travel in confined spaces?

    More lies out of our government. With so many lies told by this administration already I'm surprised anybody believes a word the savior of our world himself (Obama in case you missed the sarcasm) says.

    April 30, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. Jon

    Joe Biden says alot of smart things and alot of not so smart things. This one was a smart one. Go Joe, tell it like it is. And tell the White House to leave you alone.

    April 30, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. gastrosente

    While that Adam Henry lawyer was flying around the globe with a highly infectious strain of TB I did some research on airplane ventilation and filtration systems. The cabin air comes from outside the plane and is re circulated through filters with small micron plates that capture most bacteria. The efficacy of the system assumes regular maintenance. Biden's foot in mouth disease is said not to be contagious.

    April 30, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. OttawaNick

    Why the apology – it makes perfect sense.

    April 30, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. justme

    Good grief! No apology needed. Sounds to me like someone has some common sense. Before you start spewing awful things, get yourself educated on the facts. Hang in there Mr.Vice President, you are right!

    April 30, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  22. Dilligaf

    Hard to tell sometimes whose actually dumber – "Can't Express a Thought Without A Teleprompter" Obama, or "Foot In His Mouth" Biden? Together, they make Carter look like a genius!

    April 30, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  23. PAC

    It seems whenever a Dem speaks the GOP spins to mean a negative statement. That is a given.

    April 30, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. Alice

    I respect Joe Biden for his honesty. We are used to liers and corrupt politicians telling us stories ...and this should be shocking to many who are used to being treated as herds!!

    I'm proud to have Joe Biden as our V.P., one respectable man.

    April 30, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  25. Tanya

    Well... it surely seems that the Obama administration is surely having to apolgize a great deal this week. Biden, photo shoot with fighter jets and 747 over New York.... What can you expect!

    April 30, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
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