Two more women have claimed that Joe Biden inappropriately touched them, in a further blow to the former US Vice President said to be considering a bid for the White House.
Caitlyn Caruso, 22, told the New York Times on Tuesday that Mr Biden hugged her “just a little bit too long” when she was 19 at a University of Nevada event on sexual harassment.
According to the former student, the senior Democrat rested his hand on her thigh moments after Miss Caruso had shared a personal story of sexual assault.
She said: “It doesn’t even really cross your mind that such a person would dare perpetuate harm like that”.
A second women, 59-year-old DJ Hill, also told the New York Times that Mr Biden had placed his hands on her shoulders and dropped them down her back at a 2012 campaign event in Minneapolis.
The new claims follow that of Amy Lappos, who said Mr Biden had rubbed noses with her, and Lucy Flores, who claimed Biden had kissed her on the back.
US President Donald Trump took a shot on Tuesday at Mr Biden, a possible Democratic rival in the 2020 race for the White House, mocking him over allegations of unwanted physical contact with women.
In a speech to a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee, President Trump twice alluded to the allegations from two women that are hanging over Mr Biden as he weighs whether to enter the contest to become the Democratic candidate in November 2020 presidential elections.
A former Nevada state legislator last week accused Mr Biden of kissing her on the back of the head at a 2014 event, and a Connecticut woman said Mr Biden rubbed noses with her at a 2009 event. Biden has said he did not believe he ever acted inappropriately, and his defenders have said he is known for hugging and being physically affectionate.
In wide-ranging remarks that meandered for more than 80 minutes but often circled back to the 2020 race, Mr Biden was the only potential rival President Trump mentioned by name – a sign that he would view Mr Biden as a strong challenger, were he to enter and win the Democratic race.
Joe Biden was vice president under President Barack Obama and had a long career in the Senate before that. He had been expected to announce his bid for the Democratic primary race this month and has led the large field of Democratic hopefuls in opinion polls.
President Trump told the dinner, which raised $23 million for Republicans running for the House of Representatives, a story about wanting to kiss a general he met in Iraq who had promised an expedient end to a campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria.
“I said, ‘General: come here and give me a kiss.’ I felt like Joe Biden,” Mr Trump said, drawing laughter and applause.
Earlier, he told the crowd – which was dotted with members of the House – that they would be “going into the war with some socialists” in the next election.
“It looks like the only non-, sort of, heavy socialist is being taken care of pretty well by the socialists,” Trump said.
One of Biden’s accusers has been a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, who has already entered the Democratic primary race, and whose views are to the left of Biden.
“I was going to call him – I don’t know him well – I was going to say, ‘Welcome to the world, Joe. You having a good time, Joe? You having a good time?” President Trump said.
Mr Trump struggled during his 2016 run for office with multiple accusations of unwanted sexual contact from women, particularly after videotaped remarks emerged of Mr Trump bragging about groping women.
Mr Biden, while campaigning for Mr Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, had said he would like to take Trump “behind the gym” to beat him up for the comments.
In defence, the Democrat said: “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” he responded.
“And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention. I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear.