February 6th, 2014
06:38 PM ET
9 years ago

Biden: LaGuardia like a 'third world country'

(CNN) – New York's LaGuardia airport is notorious for crowded terminals and other constraints that contribute to horrid flight delays. And Vice President Joe Biden doesn't appear to be a big fan.

But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio isn't taking Biden's comments lightly.

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At an event in Philadelphia on Thursday, Biden compares the LaGuardia to a "third world country."

"If I blindfolded someone and took them at 2 o'clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said 'where do you think you are?' They would say, 'this must be America. This is a modern airport,'" Biden said. "If I took them blindfolded and took them to LaGuardia airport in New York, he would like 'I must be in some third world country.' I'm not joking."

De Blasio called the analogy "inappropriate" and said the vice president's comments were "not his finest moment."

"LaGuardia obviously needs an upgrade, but that being said the airport manages an extraordinary amount of traffic and the people work there make it work under very difficult circumstances," de Blasio said at a press conference on Friday.

"So as a proud New Yorker, I didn't like that comment, and I think it was not the right way to talk about it."

Biden's Hong Kong analogy was a novel, Bidenesque spin on a well-worn Obama administration pitch for more investment in U.S. infrastructure. But it could easily have been a plug for his favorite mode of transportation – the train.

It just so happened that he was speaking at an event to unveil Amtrak's new electric locomotive, where he praised America's only long-haul passenger railroad as vital to transportation along the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington.

Biden has been riding Amtrak forever, estimating he made 8,000 trips between his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington during his years in the Senate.

"It's hard to imagine what life would be along the corridor without Amtrak. It is not hyperbole to suggest I-95 would be a parking lot."

Underscoring the need for a reinvestment in the nation's infrastructure, Biden highlighted the diminishing stature of its transportation facilities compared with those internationally.

"Just in the last decade the United States has fallen 20 spots when it comes to the quality of infrastructure in America. It's embarrassing and it's stupid. It's stupid. That puts us literally behind. They rank us behind Barbados. Great country, one airport," he said.

"Look folks, not a joke, we need to reinvest and modernize our whole infrastructure, especially in rail," he said.

Ironically, Amtrak competes with airlines that fly out of LaGuardia for business up and down the Northeast Corridor, boasting that its downtown-to-downtown services are more convenient, especially those premium-paying business travelers who – you guessed it – pack LaGuardia on a daily basis.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates LaGuardia, responded to Biden's comments.

"Significant investment in transportation infrastructure is the key to growing our economy and creating jobs, which is why the Port Authority this week proposed a 10-year $27 billion capital plan that creates more than 126,000 jobs and invests $8 billion in modernizing the region's airports," it said in a statement.

"We are fast-tracking efforts that have lagged for more than a decade and investing $3.6 billion through an innovative public-private partnership to build a new Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia Airport that will provide passengers with a world-class terminal," it said.

Filed under: Joe Biden
soundoff (749 Responses)
  1. KC Yankee


    Don't touch my money. I've got mine. Who cares about anything else. This is how great nations are built.

    February 7, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. Mark

    A lot of New York City looks like a third world country.

    February 7, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. 1morecitizen

    Great that Biden was in Philly for the unveiling of Amtrak's new electric locomotive. But, I sure hope that locomotive was built and assembled with all U.S.-made parts otherwise Biden's third-world remark about LGA is moot.

    February 7, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. netizen24601

    It is clear from of the comments some of the American people do not understand what power the President and VP actually have.

    February 7, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. VL

    We will not be able to build another world class airport because of the astronomical expense to build one and the time. It took someone half a year to finish a high rise and it can take us five years. How in the world do you expect us to do that?

    February 7, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. poppao

    Simple solution – tell Biden to stay the Heck out of New York!

    February 7, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. Founder

    We needa quit nation-bulidling and pouring our treasure into black holes in other places and spend it here at home. The Minnesota bridge collapse should have been a warning to do this, but instead we watch political hacks from both parties dawdle and peck out each other's eyes to score political trinkets instead of actually doing something that benefits us all.

    February 7, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. Steve

    Unless you've traveled outside the United States in particular to Asia and Europe as most American's have not you wouldn't know just how fare behind we are when it comes to infrastructure. Especially rail, subway travel and airports we are decades behind. At the same time most don't care because they have been brainwashed the U.S. is #1 in everything. I don't see us ever catching up.
    We are #1 at tooting out own horn and in terms of spending the most money on the military. Yes, that's gotten us far now hasn't it?

    February 7, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. Michael

    The worst thing about LaGuardia is the lack of transportation options once you get there.

    February 7, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  10. Buggs

    Interesting, this was my exact impression 2 yr.s ago. On the same trip we were in LaGuardia and Moscow and the only difference was the amount of smoke and Moscow had better food.

    February 7, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. Natalie

    Great. How much do you want to bed third world countries are going to complain. Actually I've been in third world countries that are worse than LaGuardia, so the VP needs to get out more and away from the champagne and caviar.

    February 7, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. Jacqui

    he thinks LaGuardia is bad. Has he been to JFK?

    February 7, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. pop

    Biden: LaGuardia like a 'third world country'.... Does Biden know Nancy Reagan grew up in Flushing?

    February 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. humtake

    This is how Liberals think. If the red carpet doesn't get rolled out upon their entrance and they aren't offered caviar and a glass of Dom, all at the expense of every other traveller, they think it is a third world environment.

    This is just proof that American should be forced to live in a 3rd world country for at least a year so they don't trivialize what it actually means to live in one. So freaking pampered and spoiled here in this country.

    February 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. Anonymous

    LaGuardia Airport is the worst! I tried to avoid that airport. The delays are horrible, not sure if any flight out of LaGuardia is ever on time. Worst ever!

    February 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Booopie

    La Guardia is bad? Try JFK!

    February 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. Suresh Kumar

    I am on the same pages as our VP. Take a ride in the Grand Central elevator – I can only remember Hitchcock movies! All the airports are crap in US – compare the airports in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore! US was a leader where others copied but now US is at least 10 years back in infrastructure. It is time politicians ramp up the iinfrastructure in USA

    February 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. Mark

    I'm so glad the Democrats have thier own version of Sarah Palin. Thanks Biden, keep being the way you are.

    February 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. Mightaswellbe

    For those saying Hong Kong Airport was build by Chinese communist slave labor think again. It was planed and started and largely completed while Hong Kong was under British rule. The ChiComs were nice enough to let them finish after the handover.

    February 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. Bob

    What's wrong with Biden's comments? La Guardia is a disgrace. Interest rates are low. People need work. Rebuild it.

    February 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. Robert

    LaGuardia! – level it and start OVER!

    February 7, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. nhguy

    this is the same amtrak that has cost american income tax payers billions since it was created. biden is not only a fool, he's also a tool and a mouthpiece of tax and spend crowd. he'll wind up being the same for hillary.

    February 7, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. cyonline

    Sly, for your information the reason that we went to Afganinstan was that was where Bin Laden went after 9/11. he was hiding there and Pakistan all this time and that was where we were searching. Iraq was a different storyline. LaGuarida is a victum of being in the wrong place and being run by the state instead of a private sector group.

    February 7, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. is2good4u

    Ignore him, that's just Joe... we have a populist third world political agenda to go along with the airport.

    February 7, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. Frequent Flyer to LGA

    LGA is an embarrassment. I fly United into and out of LGA very frequently. It is, bar none, the worst big city airport in a developed country in the world.

    I cannot believe the local politicians and business leaders in NY let this facility deteriorate like this. NYC deserves a world class airport, not this dump.

    February 7, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
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