Joe Biden Really Doesn’t Like LaGuardia Airport

The vice president took another jab at the New York City airport’s aging infrastructure on Wednesday.

National Journal
Marina Koren
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Marina Koren
July 9, 2014, 12:33 p.m.

La­Guardia Air­port does not have a fan in Joe Biden.

The vice pres­id­ent used New York City’s second-largest air­port to make his case for in­vest­ment in U.S. in­fra­struc­ture on Wed­nes­day, and it wasn’t pretty.

“If you were blind­folded and I dropped you in an air­port in the middle of New York and I dropped you in an air­port in the middle of Beijing, you sure as hell wouldn’t pick La­Guardia as be­ing in the United States,” the vice pres­id­ent said, ac­cord­ing to press pool re­ports.

Biden made the com­ments at a meet­ing of 75 gov­ern­ment and busi­ness of­fi­cials to dis­cuss the High­way Trust Fund, which is ex­pec­ted to run out of re­sources for trans­port­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture by Au­gust. The gath­er­ing was hos­ted by the White House Busi­ness Coun­cil.

He piled on. “The greatest city in the world with the air­port struc­ture it has now? C’mon guys,” he said. “How long can that last? How long can we con­tin­ue to be in that po­s­i­tion?”

This isn’t the first time Biden has slammed the air­port’s aging fa­cil­it­ies, nor is it his first men­tion of blind­fold­ing people. In Feb­ru­ary, the vice pres­id­ent said that if a blind­folded per­son were taken to Hong Kong’s air­port and asked to name their loc­a­tion once they could see, they would say: “This must be Amer­ic­an; it’s a mod­ern air­port.” Not so in the U.S. “If I took you and blind­folded you and took you to La­Guardia Air­port in New York, you must think, ‘I must be in some third-world coun­try.’ “

New York City May­or Bill de Bla­sio was not happy with Biden’s snub. “La­Guardia, ob­vi­ously, needs an up­grade,” he said back then. “But that be­ing said, the air­port man­ages an ex­traordin­ary amount of traffic, and the people who work there make it work un­der very dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances, and so as a proud New York­er, I didn’t like that com­ment, and I think it was not the right way to talk about it.”

La­Guardia is in­deed in need of re­pairs. Its op­er­at­or, the Port Au­thor­ity of New York and New Jer­sey, is plan­ning to spend $3.6 bil­lion on an over­haul, ac­cord­ing to Time.

No air­port, however, holds a candle to Biden’s fa­vor­ite train ser­vice, Amtrak. The vice pres­id­ent said Wed­nes­day that he has taken 8,000 trips through Amtrak between his home state of Delaware and Wash­ing­ton. Biden is “Amtrak Joe” through and through, not “Air­port Joe.”

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