Vice President Joe Biden on The 'Today' Show Said: I've Told My Family to Avoid Planes, Subways, Confined Spaces


The vice president says his family and people in general should avoid public transit until swine flu subsides. It's probably never a good thing when your spokesperson has to put out a statement explaining what you REALLY meant. But Vice President Joe Biden said in his own words, "if you're in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft." Needless to say airline stocks dropped like rock this morning. I give the vice president a point for HONESTY but it would be great if everyone in the government was on the same page. If this advice is good for the family of the vice president it is also good for me. Biden also said:

"I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now." Biden said it wasn't just about not going to Mexico but that if "you're in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft." That even goes for the subway, Biden said. "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 a closed container, a closed car, a closed classroom, it's a different thing."

Soon after, Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander issued a statement to White House reporters. It said:
"The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the Administration is giving to all Americans: that they should avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico. If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces, such as subways. This is the advice the Vice President has given family members who are traveling by commercial airline this week. As the President said just last night, every American should take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu."
The gaffe-master Vice President stomped all over President Obama's stay calm message by blurting out that he's told his family to stay off planes and subways to avoid swine flu and exacerbating all fears. To think, Joe Biden is a heartbeat away from the presidency…

Joe Biden caused jaws to drop today when he told Matt Lauer that he would advise his family not to get on trains or planes until the swine flu pandemic has subsided.

On NBC's "Today" show Lauer asked the vice president what he would say to a relative who asked how to proceed, to which Biden replied, "I would tell members of my family — and I have — that I would not go anywhere in confined places now … I would not be at this point suggesting they take the subway." People should not be clamoring to get into confined places, said Mr. Biden.

Biden even went into specifics: "It's not just going to Mexico - if you're in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft."

"That's me. I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation, be suggesting they ride the subway."

Biden's staff instantly went into damage control mode with a what-Joe-really-meant statement, saying the veep thought planes and subways were still okay for his family and they should stay off them only if they felt sick.

Biden's open mouth ,insert foot tendencies were a major concern in the President's inner circle during the campaign, when they bypassed then-Sen. Hillary Clinton in favor of the veteran Delaware senator.

The warning, and then the quick rollback, on planes and subways muddled the message of Obama and Mayor Bloomberg that the flu outbreak was a cause for concern but not for "alarm."

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) slapped at Biden for his loose lips.

"As far as not riding on subways or planes, we're not going to shut down our system and that doesn't get to the nub of the problem anyway, so I think that's very unfortunate that this kind of misinformation got out," Harkin told reporters.

As for whether or not we should close our borders, Biden insisted such a measure wouldn’t be productive, because the virus has already found its way into the country. President Barack Obama last night told the nation that the best thing to do is cover your mouth when you cough and wash your hands regularly, which you should really be doing anyway.


Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. (born November 20, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. U.S.A.) is the senior United States Senator from Delaware. He is a member of the Democratic Party, and is currently serving his sixth term. Biden has served for the sixth-longest period among current Senators (fourth among Democrats) and is Delaware's longest-serving Senator. He is the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the 110th Congress. Biden has served in that position in the past, and he has served as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He was a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination in the 2008 presidential election, but dropped out after the caucuses in Iowa on January 3, 2008.

Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph R. Biden, Sr. and Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Finnegan. He was the first of four siblings and is of Irish Catholic heritage. He has two brothers, James Brian Biden and Francis W. Biden, and a sister, Valerie (Biden) Owens. The Biden family moved to Claymont, Delaware when Biden was 10 years old, and he grew up in suburban New Castle County, Delaware, where his father was a car salesman. He also loved to play the flute in band, which earned him the nickname, "fleet flutin joe". In 1961, Biden graduated from Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware and, in 1965, from the University of Delaware in Newark, where he double majored in history and political science. He then attended Syracuse University College of Law, graduated in 1968, and was admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1969.

In 1966, while in law school, Biden married Neilia Hunter. They had three children, Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, Robert Hunter, and Naomi. His wife and infant daughter died in a car accident shortly after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. His two young sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured in the accident, but both eventually made full recoveries. Biden was sworn into office from their bedside. Persuaded not to resign in order to care for them, Biden began the practice of commuting an hour and a half each day on the train from his home in the Wilmington suburbs to Washington, DC, which he continues to do.

In 1977, Biden married Jill Tracy Jacobs. They have one daughter, Ashley, and are members of the Roman Catholic Church. In February 1988, Biden was hospitalized for two brain aneurysms which kept him from the Senate for seven months.

Biden's elder son, Beau, was a partner in the Wilmington law firm of Bifferato, Gentilotti, Biden & Balick, LLC and was elected Attorney General of Delaware in 2006. He is a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard, where he serves in the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps. He is set to be deployed to Iraq in October. Biden's younger son, Hunter, works as a lawyer in Washington, DC, serves on the board of directors of Amtrak, and previously worked in the Commerce Department.

Since 1991, Biden has also served as an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.In 1987, Joe Biden ran as a Democratic presidential candidate, formally declaring his candidacy at the Wilmington train station on June 9, 1987. In Biden's speech, he challenged Americans to step beyond the materialism of the Reagan years. When the campaign began, Biden was considered a potentially strong candidate because of his moderate image, his supposed appeal to Baby Boomers, his fundraising appeal (Biden's $1.7 million raised in the first quarter of 1987 was more than any other candidate, including the then front-runner, Gary Hart), his high profile position as chair of the Senate Judiciary committee during the Robert Bork confirmation hearings, and, perhaps above all, his soaring oratory. Biden often seemed to try to inspire the same hope and idealism assoicated with 1960s liberals such as Robert Kennedy, especially as related to civil rights. He received considerable attention in the summer of 1986 when he excoriated Secretary of State George Shultz at a Senate Hearing because of the Reagan administration's support of South Africa, which continued to support a system of Apartheid. By August 1987, however, Biden's campaign had already begun to lag behind those of Michael Dukakis and Richard Gephardt.

Then in September 1987, the campaign ran into serious trouble when he was accused of plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party. Though Biden had correctly credited the original author in all speeches but one, the one where he failed to make mention of the originator was caught on video. Within days, it was also discovered that, while at Syracuse Law School, Biden had plagiarized a law review article in a class paper he wrote. Biden said the act was inadvertent due to his not knowing the proper rules of citation, and Biden was permitted to retake the course after receiving a grade of F in the course. Biden also released at the same time the record of his grades as an undergraduate which were C's and D's with the exception of two A's in physical education, one B in a course on English writers and an F in ROTC during his first three semesters. His grades improved later in his undergraduate career but were not exceptional. Further, when questioned by a New Hampshire resident about his grades in law school Biden had claimed falsely to have graduated in the "top half" of his class, (when he actually graduated 76th in a class of 85) that he had attended on a full scholarship, and had received three degrees. In fact he had received a single B.A. in history and political science and had not received a full scholarship.

Faced with these revelations, Biden withdrew from the nomination race on September 23, 1987, saying his candidacy had been overrun by "the exaggerated shadow" of his mistakes. After Biden withdrew from the race it was learned that the Dukakis campaign had secretly made a video showcasing the Biden/Kinnock comparison and distributed it to news outlets. Dukakis fired John Sasso, his campaign manager and long-time Chief of Staff.

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