Former vice president and 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden raised eyebrows after making a comment many called “inappropriate” during his appearance at a Houston, Texas, town hall hosted by the American Federation of Teachers on Tuesday.
During the event, Biden took a question from a young girl in the audience about divisions in the U.S.
“What I’m going to do, is if you give me an address, I’m going to write you a longer answer and tell you the exact things I’m going to do, OK? Promise?” he said. “I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking.”
Biden then asked the girl what her favorite subject was in school, to which she replied “journalism, I guess.” He joked that he should “be more circumspect” in his answers as he took her by the hand and led her over to the section of the room where members of the press were stationed.
Then, Biden put his hands on the young girl’s shoulders, saying, “The reason who we are who we are is called a free press.”
Biden’s behavior has previously come under scrutiny after multiple women came forward with accusations of unwelcome physical contact or interactions with the former vice president before he announced that he would run for the White House in 2020.
He addressed the allegations in a video posted to his Twitter account in April.
“Social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset and I get it. I get it,” he said. “I hear what they’re saying, I understand it, and I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility.”