'Creepy!' Joe Biden: Hands-on Moment With Defense Secretary's Wife

Reaction has been intense to Joe Biden’s up-close-and personal moment with the new Defense Secretary’s wife. INSIDE EDITION speaks to an etiquette expert.

Vice President Joe Biden is at the center of a firestorm for being a little too touchy-feely with the wife of the new Secretary of Defense.

A CNN reporter noted, "Oh my gosh! Not only did he have his hands on her, he was also whispering sweet nothings in her ear!"

On the Today show, correspondent Tamron Hall said, "As a woman I do not want a man touching my shoulders like that!"

It happened at the swearing in of new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. First there were handshakes and kisses. Then, as Carter begins to speak, Biden gestures to Stephanie Carter to come stand with him.

He puts both hands on her shoulders and keeps them there for an uncomfortable 28 seconds. Then he appeared to whisper something in her ear. Some commentators say he was actually smelling her hair!

Etiquette expert Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick says the veep's behavior is a big no-no. She told INSIDE EDITION, "He should not be doing that!"

She explained, "It looks very creepy, to have him putting his arms around someone, and perhaps they're friends, but again, it doesn't matter. It's a formal ceremony. It's never appropriate to touch anyone in business."

The response on social media is scathing. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin tweeted: "#TellJoeNoMeansNo."

The New York Daily News headline says "The Veep is a Creep."

But MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski is defending Biden. "It's not creepy. He is so nice, and he was probably saying something very sweet. "

One theory is that Biden was actually trying to comfort Stephanie Carter. Just before the swearing in she slipped on ice as she and the new defense secretary arrived at the Pentagon. He helped her up.

"I got salt water in my eyes!" she exclaimed.

It's not the first time the Vice President has been accused of getting too up close and personal.

Just last month Biden was caught on camera getting uncomfortably close to the 13-year-old  daughter of the new senator from Delaware. She looked mortified, but was quoted as saying she didn't think Biden was creepy at all.

He was also hands-on at the 2013 White House Christmas party with a newspaper reporter. 

He was also photographed with a leather clad woman during a stop in an Ohio diner.    

No question about it, Biden may be the most entertaining Veep in recent history. Just one word of caution: "I would advise him to keep his hands to himself and to think before he speaks," Napier-Fitzpatrick warned.