At an Oct. 31 stop in Florida, a pool report notes, “A group of older women came near looking to snap some photos and [greet] the VP. One of the women called him ‘gorgeous.’ ‘Would you tell my wife that?’ [Biden] responded.”
Another report from the same day states “an older women was in shock to see VP there. ‘You’re better-looking in person,’ she said.” Biden offered a similar reply, quipping, “Will you write a note to my wife?”
Cynthia Lett, an etiquette expert who heads up the D.C. area-based Lett Group, says for lawmakers, accepting compliments can be tougher than it is for regular Joes.
According to Lett, it’s human nature to compliment someone as a way of encouraging niceties for ourselves. So, when praised on your appearance, the protocol pro says it’s important to extend the same courtesy, “the point being that you compliment them back to keep the ‘score’ even.”
But Lett says Biden’s playful rejoinders about his wife, Jill, could be taken the wrong way. “His response was a bit glib and demeaning to Dr. Biden and her judgment of her husband’s looks. It also opens the question to the crowd about what the dynamic is in their home that his own wife doesn't think he's as desirable as his political fans do. “
Her tip for Biden? “I would tell him to respond to a compliment about his looks with a kind word to the gracious fan who gave it to him, not to agree with her by hanging up on his wife and her opinion of him,” advises Lett.