As it often the case nowadays, it was questioning by ABC’s Jake Tapper that put Gibbs on the spot.
JAKE TAPPER: My other question has to do with remarks Vice-President Biden made this morning on television. Representatives of the travel industry have accused the Vice-President of coming close to fear-mongering because of his comments. I’m wondering if you wanted to clarify, or correct or apologize for the remarks that he made.
ROBERT GIBBS: Well, what the Vice-President meant to say [at this point, some laughter in the press corps can be heard] is that again, many members have said in the last few days: if you feel sick, if you’re exhibiting symptoms, flu-like symptoms: coughing, sneezing, runny nose, that you should take precautions, that you should limit your travel. And I just think he just: what he said and what he meant to say.
TAPPER: With all due respect, and I sympathize with you trying to explain the Vice-President’s comments, but that’s not even remotely close to what he said. He was asked about if a member of his family were to –
GIBBS: I understand what he said, and I’m telling you what he meant to say, which was that –
At this point, the loud and unrestrained laughter of the press corps can be heard.
GIBBS: — if someone is experiencing symptoms, you heard the President last night, if someone is feeling sick, exhibiting symptoms of being sick, then they should take all necessary precautions. Obviously if anybody was unduly alarmed for whatever reason, we would apologize for that and I hope that my remarks and remarks of people at the CDC and Secretary Napolitano have appropriately cleared up what he meant to say.