Two more women came forward to accuse Joe Biden of uncomfortable touches on April 2 as the former vice president reassured supporters that he’s still planning to run for president.
The two women, Caitlyn Caruso, 22, and D.J. Hill, 59, relayed their stories to The New York Times.
Caruso, a sexual assault survivor, said Biden rested his hand on her thigh even as she squirmed to show her discomfort. Caruso was 19 at the time and had just told her own story at an event on sexual assault at the University of Nevada.
Caruso said Biden also hugged her “just a little bit too long.” Biden’s actions made Caruso uncomfortable since she thought that, as the architect of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, he would be sensitive about physical boundaries.
“It doesn’t even really cross your mind that such a person would dare perpetuate harm like that,” Caruso told The New York Times. “These are supposed to be people you can trust.”
Hill, the second woman, met Biden at a fundraising event in Minneapolis in 2012. When Hill and her husband posed for a photo with the vice president, Biden placed his hand on her shoulder and began to drop it down her back, which made her “very uncomfortable.”
Hill’s husband noticed Biden’s move and stopped him by placing a hand on Biden’s shoulder and making a joke. Hill doesn’t know what Biden’s intention was.
“Only he knows his intent,” Hill told the New York Times.
Hill and Caruso came forward after two other women accused Biden of inappropriate touching.
Lucy Flores, a former Nevada lawmaker, said that Biden leaned in too close, smelled her hair, and planted a kiss on the back of her head during a 1994 campaign event for her in Nevada. Flores told CNN the entire gesture was “completely inappropriate.”
Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide, told the Hartford Courant that Biden “put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me” during a fundraiser in Connecticut in 2009.
“When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth,” Lappos told the Hartford Courant.
Meanwhile, a number of women have come forward to say that similar touches from Biden did not make them uncomfortable.
Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, responded for the first time to a picture taken of her with Biden during the swearing-in ceremony for her husband in February 2015. Carter wrote in a blog post that she appreciated Biden’s gesture.
Several other women interviewed by The New York Times also said Biden’s gestures did not make them uncomfortable.
Erin Bilbray, a Democrat who ran for Congress in Nevada, wrote on Facebook that rather than being offended, she was touched by Biden’s “affection and compassion.”
“I am a life long advocate for women. I also support victims. But I feel it necessary to share my experience,” Bilbray wrote. “The Vice President held a rally for me the same summer he came to Las Vegas for Lucy Flores. He squeezed my shoulders and kissed my head. It was very much like a father or grandfather (in fact, my father had done the same just minutes before).”
In a video post on Twitter in response to the allegations, Biden said: “It’s just who I am. And I’ve never thought of politics as cold and antiseptic, I’ve always thought of it [as] about connecting with people.
“I will be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space, and that’s a good thing.”
As the allegations continued to surface, Biden told supporters he still plans to run for president and is waiting until after Easter to make an official announcement, according to a Biden adviser who spoke to Fox News anonymously.
Despite not having announced an official run, Biden is the leading candidate in the Democratic field, according to an average of polls maintained by Real Clear Politics. Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is second in the field and trails Biden by 7 points.