Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told a radio audience this morning that Vice President Joe Biden’s impromptu advice to avoid confined places to guard against contracting swine flu was “unfortunate.”
“Well, I think that’s a very unfortunate statement by the vice president. We just don’t need that type of misinformation going out,” Harkin said, according to Iowa Radio.
Harkin was commenting about what Biden had said earlier in the day when asked about what advice he’d give his family about the flu outbreak.
Biden told NBC’s “Today” show that he’d tell them to avoid “confined spaces” like airplanes and subways.
“I would tell members of my family-- and I have -- that I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,” Biden said, before digging himself deeper into specifics, according to a report in the NY Daily News.
“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.”
Later in the day, Biden’s staff in spin mode suggested that what their boss meant was that planes and trains were still okay for his family -- and they should stay off them only if they felt sick.
Whether or not Harkin had been enlightened by the Biden staff damage control is not known, but the lawmaker was not giving the vice-president any slack: “I wish the vice president had checked with the center for disease control and preparedness before he made that statement....”
Harkin then added: “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’s subcommittee oversees/drafts spending plans for the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Public Health Service.
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