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Biden manages to anger everyone over bad flu advice

By Jimmy Orr / April 30, 2009

Vice President Biden rides again. The Veep's candid remarks regarding flu prevention got him in hot water today with many in the travel industry issuing condemnation statements. Not only did his office rescind what he said, but the White House Press Secretary was visibly irritated that he had to deal with it.

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It could be Vice President Biden's biggest gaffe in ..... weeks!

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs turned into a stand-up comedian today when tap dancing around Joe Biden's controversial remarks this morning on the flu.

If you didn't hear about Biden's appearance on the Today Show, he basically said that in order to remain safe from the flu, people should avoid cars, planes, classrooms, trains, subways, and confined spaces.

Where should they go? Biden said the "middle of a field" was pretty safe. (You can read more about it here).

Press briefing

When asked about his remarks, Gibbs responded, "What the vice president meant to say was ... if you feel sick, if you exhibit flu-like symptoms ... you should take precautions and you should limit your travel.."

Not good enough for ABC's Jake Tapper, who followed up with a real question instead of asking something silly like what the vice president was enchanted with.

"With all due respect, and I sympathize with you trying to explain the vice president's comments, that's not even remotely close to what he said," Tapper said.

"I understand what he said, and I'm telling you what he meant to say," Gibbs said to an avalanche of laughter.

Of course, only moments after Biden got off the set of the Today Show, his press office -- well versed in this routine -- sent out a statement clarifying what he meant. You can read about that here.

Further clarity

Now everyone is clarifying what he meant. Like American Airlines. They ain't happy.

"To suggest that people not fly at this stage of things is a broad brush stroke bordering on fear mongering," American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said. "The facts of the situation at this stage anyway certainly don't support that."

"American Airlines flies approximately 250,000 passengers a day and as of today, we have not had one ill passenger test positive for swine flu," he added.

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