The comment was quickly criticized by fellow Democrats, including actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, who tweeted that Biden had complimented "America's most anti-LGBT elected leader," forcing Biden to walk back his comment.
"You're right, Cynthia. I was making a point in a foreign policy context, that under normal circumstances a Vice President wouldn't be given a silent reaction on the world stage," Biden tweeted. "But there is nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights, and that includes the Vice President."
The episode shows one of the challenges the 76-year-old Biden will face as he considers a run for the presidency. In promoting his relationships with Republicans in a way that might appeal to general election voters, Biden also risks alienating the Democrats he would need to win a primary.
Biden has had kind words for other Republican officials in recent weeks.
One Democratic official warned that Biden should focus first on the Democratic primary, not the general election, if he decides to run.
"He has to be careful not to run too much of a potential general election campaign before he even gets in the primary race," said Brenda Kole, an Iowa-based Democratic operative who was a senior adviser to Clinton's 2008 and 2016 campaigns.
"I don't think that comes with the attendant risks that it would for newcomers," she said.
Biden said earlier this week that he hadn't made a final decision about running in 2020, though his family was encouraging him to launch a White House bid. Biden told The New York Times he'd launch his campaign after March if he decides to get in.