Biden manages to anger everyone over bad flu advice
It could be Vice President Biden's biggest gaffe in ..... weeks!
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).
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.."
"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.
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.
The Air Transport Association concurred. The CEO of the airline industry trade organization wrote a letter to the vice president and to make sure he received it (in case the mailman forgot to deliver it), they mass-blasted it out to all the media.
"On behalf of the nation’s airlines, I am writing to express my extreme disappointment at your suggestion that people should avoid air travel in response to the H1N1 flu outbreak," wrote James C. May.
"The fact is that the air onboard a commercial aircraft is cleaner than that in most public buildings," he added.
Of course that statement could lead to stampedes of screaming people fleeing from public buildings, but that's another issue.
And the US Travel Association chimed in. President Roger Dow said the public should "heed the advice of medical experts" instead of the vice president. Well, he didn't mention him by name. But, we're assuming that's who he meant.
"Elected officials must strike a delicate balance of accurately and adequately informing citizens of health concerns without unduly discouraging travel and other important economic activity," he said.
"We just don't need that kind of misinformation going out. I wish the vice president had checked with the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before he made such a statement," he said.
Sum it up
Perhaps the conservative website Red State issued the best statement:
"If President Obama wishes to handle this crisis by sending Vice President Biden to an undisclosed location until it’s over, well, sacrifices must be made," they wrote.
Although it sounds like Biden is having a bad day, at least he wasn't responsible for the 9/11 coloring book. Click here for that story.