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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton responded to frequent criticism that she is too "aloof or cold" in a caption under her portrait on Humans of New York, a viral portrait photography page.
Clinton shared a story about how she was heckled before taking a law school admissions test. She said one man told her, "If you take my spot, I'll get drafted, and I'll go to Vietnam, and I'll die." Clinton said, however, that she didn't respond because she "couldn't afford to get distracted because [she] didn't want to mess up the test."
Young women have a tough task of learning to control their responses without coming off as aloof, she said.
"And that's a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don't want to seem 'walled off.' And sometimes I think I come across more in the 'walled off' arena," Clinton said.
The photo, where Clinton is not smiling, comes a day after her appearance on NBC's Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus criticized her performance in the forum, tweeting that she had "no smile" and looked "uncomfortable."
"We were talking about serious issues last night," Clinton responded in a Thursday morning press conference.
"I know the difference between what we have to do to fix the VA, what we have to do to take the fight to ISIS and just making political happy talk. I had a very short window of time in that event last night to convey the seriousness with which I would approach the issues that concern our country. Donald Trump chose to talk about his deep admiration and support of Vladimir Putin. Maybe he did it with a smile, and I guess the RNC would have liked that."
When asked if the criticism was related to a double standard applied to women, Clinton said, "I'm going to let you all ponder that last question. I think there will be a lot of Ph.D. theses and popular journalism writing on that subject for years to come."
— CNBC's Anita Balakrishnan contributed to this report.