Democratic presidential hopeful Joseph R. Biden is facing criticism on social media after he touched the shoulders of a 10-year-old girl and called her “good-looking” during an event in Houston on Tuesday night.

The encounter took place during a town hall meeting with teachers after Virmania Villalobos, 10, asked Mr. Biden about the political divisions in this country. He told her that’s part of the reason he’s running for president and said, “I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking,” Politico reported.

The girl then told Mr. Biden that her favorite subject is journalism, so he led her to the back of the room to meet members of the media.

“The reason we are who we are is called a free press. Continuing to denigrate it is dangerous,” the former vice president said as he stood behind the girl and held onto her shoulders. The girl smiled throughout the encounter.

Mr. Biden has been criticized in recent months for his interactions with women and young girls after multiple women accused the former vice president of unwanted touching. While he never admitted to doing anything wrong, Mr. Biden promised in April that he would be more mindful of people’s personal space moving forward. He officially launched his 2020 presidential bid later that same month.

Tuesday’s exchange caught the attention of The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez, who called it “somewhat odd” in a now-viral tweet. Thousands of people have responded to Ms. Sonmez’s tweet, calling the former vice president “creepy” and “inappropriate.”

“Biden’s campaign declined to comment,” the reporter added in another tweet.

Several social media users, including Ms. Sonmez, have also started circulating videos of the encounter on social media.

Here’s a video of the exchange: https://t.co/OGwUvIkztR (begins around the 43:20 mark)

— Felicia Sonmez (@feliciasonmez) May 29, 2019

© Copyright (c) 2019 News World Communications, Inc.

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