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. GGC

    Connect Laguardia to the train or subway!
    Have you ever taken the bus out of LGA?

    February 7, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Gambi

    If you want to see a beautiful airport try flying into the Hilton Head/Savannah International Airport.

    February 7, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. Name

    We are too busy and spending trillions rebuilding Islamic countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

    February 7, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Abbey

    Nice to see the Democrats working together.

    February 7, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Richard Sutter

    Well what a great platform to run on JB. You'll get how many votes. I just wish a section of lane was widened in Richmond VA.

    February 7, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. greg

    Perhaps Joe, if you and your entitlement party would stop paying people to sit around doing nothing all day, then maybe we would have money to spend on infrastructure, and just maybe these same people might be motivated to go out and do the work. Seems like a win-win to me. I know, expecting people to work for a living is not the caring democrat way.

    February 7, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Stephen

    And he still gets away with it.

    February 7, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. bobpitt

    People that do not travel think is OK because they have never seen anything else.. People that travel can assure you is not just the airport that are behind times.. the subway in New York looks like from the 1920's the railroad system is abysmal, roads, ports, bridges.. etc...

    February 7, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. tbone

    Biden has nothing important to do, so he's criticizing things.

    February 7, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. Bill Schretter

    I would get rid of all the local airports – LaQuardia, Philadelphia, and Boston and create a single centralized mega airport. Then , I would connect by maglev to the cities and other specific regions. Currently, they all share airtraffic and get very congested. It causes 50% of the delay. a single super airport linked to the rail system, highway system, and local cities will create a transit megacomplex. The old airports will then be converted to new industrial real estate , private real estate, and public parks. The new central location could be created in an area that is suffering from blight. Many jobs created, mostly funded by private investment.

    February 7, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. John Pohlmann

    Didn't the government just spend a ton of money on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009? Where did that money go?

    February 7, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. Chas

    Guess Biden is planning on running in 2016, making his usual noise to get media coverage, CNN is playing it up as usual...
    Well Joe maybe if we weren't spending billions on third-world countries we'd have $$$ to improve our infrastructure!!!

    February 7, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. Andrewmag166

    Isn't most the US like a third world country?

    February 7, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. Veritas

    Biden is just like Dan Quail, except that Biden really IS as stupid as the media makes him out to be.

    February 7, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  15. Scott

    Joe Biden is a big fan of giving things a facelift.

    February 7, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. Master Savior

    Still better than New York's 4th-world subway system.

    February 7, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. Steve

    The Delta Terminal seems pretty nice and clean, but that is the only one I have ever used besides the Marine Air Terminal

    February 7, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Will

    If Joe Biden thinks the airport is in rough shape, I would love to know what he thinks of cities such as Camden, Detroit, Oakland... airports have security, these areas don't. If you really want to feel like you're in a third world, take a gander into one of those cities, and you will WISH you were in a third world. No matter what party you're in, the focus should be improvement. This country is screaming for help in areas to boost and raise the mentality.

    February 7, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Eric Goldman

    I am actually glad that we are having this conversation. Although I consider Biden a bafoon. Once in a while like a broken clock he says something right. Instead of focusing on how much Russia spent on Sochi games and state of their readiness. I'd rather our media and policy makers (from both isles) face the truth about state of our infrastructure. Make it via private or public funding I really don't care. As long as try to stop being an embarrassment that we've become – the giant with feet of clay. People, are so duped by misguided "america is the best" mantra, that they are blind to the grim truth. I please don't mention hords of 3rd world losers and discards trying to come her as evidence to the contrary.

    February 7, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  20. Don

    I disagree with Biden on everything, but anyone who has ever flown out of Laguardia would know that what he states in this case isnt his opinion, it is a fact. That place is a complete garbage dump and has been for 20 years.

    February 7, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Billy Bob Thraxton

    The US is rapidly becoming a third world country. Europe and Asia have all the neat toys, the best bullet trains, the fastest wireless networks. We get stuck with the garbage.

    How do we get out of this mess?

    February 7, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. Alex

    He is completely right. There is a lot to be done in the U.S. as far as infrastructure is concerned. I It is all of the prior administrations' neglected responsibility, Democratic and Republican alike. It is necessary to invest in the rail system and in airports. At least someone is bringing attention to it – He is not insulting the third world-only someone who doesn't understand English or is too biased to understand the point would think that. He is simply saying that expectations on the U.S. are high, and some things in the country are not living up to them. It takes a smart and bold individual to stand up and say something so right, that so many people are going to try and twist around.

    February 7, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. Jo Se

    Uh. Biden and Obama have caused us to crash into third world status. Truth is, this is some ploy to get money for a new airport to reward New Jerk Mayor and Governor with hundreds of billions of dollars.

    February 7, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. M.W.

    if you are a tourist and rent a car, both JFK and La Guardia do not have direction on how to get to Manhattan.

    February 7, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. The Sheriff

    Well most American Airlines offer pathetic service. When I travel overseas I prefer an foreign airline service over an American one. Better treatment and service.

    February 7, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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