Biden Clarifies Message on Travel

Posted April 30, 2009 at 8:35am

The White House scrambled to address comments by Vice President Joseph Biden, who said on the “Today— show Thursday morning that he would advise members of his family to avoid confined places like airplanes and subways to remain safe from the swine flu.In a statement, Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander suggested that Biden was referring to members of his family who are sick, indicating he was in fact trying to protect other passengers from them and not the reverse. She suggested his advice not to get on airplanes also was meant to apply to travel to Mexico.“On the Today Show this morning the Vice President was asked what he would tell a family member who was considering air travel to Mexico this week,— Alexander 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.—Biden, who is known for speaking freely, said on the show that he was expressing his personal views. “I would tell members of my family … I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,” Biden said in response to a question from Matt Lauer. Biden added, “If one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft.” Biden noted he wouldn’t suggest taking the subway to work either. “I would not be at this point, if they had another mode of transportation, be suggesting they ride the subway,” he said. Though his spokesperson said he was advising family members against travel to Mexico, Biden on “Today— reiterated comments made Wednesday night by President Barack Obama that there was no need to shut the border with Mexico or curtail air travel from that country. He said “leading experts” have advised that such a move would not be “efficacious.” He said the focus should be on mitigation, not border closings.