US President Donald Trump has ridiculed former vice president Joe Biden over accusations that he has touched women inappropriately, in a preview of the attacks Mr Biden might face if he pursues a 2020 presidential bid.
During a freewheeling speech at a fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Mr Trump at one point told a story about a conversation he had with a general. “I said, ‘General, give me a kiss.’ I felt like Joe Biden. But I meant it,” Mr Trump said, prompting laughter from the crowd.
At another point in his remarks, Mr Trump mentioned the 2020 White House race and said that the only Democratic candidate who was not a socialist was “being taken care of pretty well by the socialists” – a nod to unproven claims by some Biden supporters that the recent accusations against him are being pushed by his political rivals.
“I was going to say, ‘Welcome to the world, Joe. You having a good time, Joe?’,” Mr Trump said.
More than a dozen women have accused Mr Trump of sexual misconduct. The most recent accusation came last month, when Alva Johnson, a former staffer on Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, said Mr Trump kissed her against her will in 2016. Mr Trump has denied all of the allegations against him.
Mr Trump himself spoke graphically about forcibly kissing and groping women during a 2005 conversation that was caught on tape and surfaced during the 2016 campaign.
Mr Biden yesterday acknowledged that his tendency toward physical displays of affection and encouragement has made some women uncomfortable, and he promised to be “much more mindful” of respecting personal space.
“Social norms have begun to change. They’ve shifted,” the 76-year-old Biden said in a cellphone video posted to Twitter . “And the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. And I get it. I get it. I hear what they are saying. I understand.”
Wearing a suit and open-collared shirt, Biden also teased an announcement of his political plans, promising to “be talking to you about a whole lot of issues.”
Late last week, Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state legislator, penned an essay in which she said that Mr Biden approached her from behind during a 2014 campaign rally, placed his hands on her shoulders and planted a “big slow kiss” on the back of her head. On Monday, Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide to Congressman Jim Himes, said Mr Biden put his hand around her neck and rubbed noses with her at a 2009 fundraiser.
Two more women, Caitlyn Caruso and DJ Hill, have also accused Mr Biden of touching them inappropriately, the ‘New York Times’ reported.
Mr Biden on Sunday said in a statement that he had offered “countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort” during his years in public life,” and not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately.”
During his nearly 90-minute speech on Tuesday, Mr Trump took a number of swipes at Democrats – and also made some remarks that likely raised the eyebrows of members of his own party.
© Washington Post