FLASHBACK: Joe Biden Spread Panic About Swine Flu in 2009

Joe Biden (Jeenah Moon / Getty)
Jeenah Moon / Getty

Former Vice President Joe Biden claims that he was responsible for the Obama administration’s handling of the Ebola outbreak in 2014. But Biden caused panic in 2009 during the swine flu outbreak, telling Americans not to take flights or subways. Biden had to walk back his remarks and the Obama White House had to issue an apology.

Politico reported at the time:

In an interview Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, Biden said, “I would tell members of my family — and I have — I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,” Biden said on NBC’s “Today” show.. “It’s not that it’s going to Mexico. It’s [that] you’re in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. …

“So, from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you’re out in the middle of a field when someone sneezes, that’s one thing. If you’re in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom, it’s a different thing.”

A little more than one hour later, Biden rushed out a statement backing off.

Biden’s remarks contradicted more restrained advice from President Barack Obama and the federal government — and the last thing the White House wants to do right now is shut down the airline industry and big-city subways out of mass panic.

Politico added that Biden’s comment reinforced concerns within the administration about his propensity for gaffes. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued an apology for any alarm Biden’s remarks might have caused.

Biden claimed in the Democrat debate on Tuesday: “What we did with Ebola — I was part of making sure that pandemic did not get to the United States, saved millions of lives.”

He added a claim that has since been fact-checked as false by the Associated Press: “We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. We should — and our president today — and he’s wiped all that out.”

While Trump proposed budget cuts at the CDC earlier this year, they have not been passed by Congress and would not have taken effect yet, regardless.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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