Jessica Leeds wanted to punch the television screen when she saw Donald Trump insist at the second debate he would never touch or grope a woman without her permission. He may have bragged about it, he had professed, but had never done that.
Now, Leeds and at least six more women have stepped forward, alleging Trump did just that, forced himself on them on a commercial flight, outside an elevator, his resort in Miami, or just gawked at them as they changed at his beauty pageants.
Leeds said Trump touched her breasts and tried to put a hand up her skirt in the first class cabin of a commercial flight — he didn't have a plane of his own then — over three decades ago.
Rachel Crooks alleged Trump kissed her on her cheeks and “directly on the mouth” as they waited for an elevator inside Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2005. She worked there.
Natasha Stoynoff, a reporter, alleged that Trump pushed her up against a wall and started kissing her during an interview at Mar-a-Lago in December 2005.
Mindy McGillivray alleged Trump groped her behind at a concert at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Miami in 2003. Her account was confirmed by a photographer who was with her.
Cassandra Searles, a Miss Washington, wrote in Facebook that Trump, who owned the Miss Universe and Miss USA beauty pageants then, “continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room”.
Another Miss USA contestant, who has chosen to remain anonymous, alleged, “Mr Trump just barged right in, didn’t say anything, stood there and stared at us (while they changed).”
Tanya Dixon, another contestant, has said Trump came “waltzing in” when she and others were either naked or undressing.
And Mariah Billado, a Miss Teen USA contestant, has alleged, “I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here.”
In a series of tweets on Thursday morning, Trump called Leeds and Crooks's allegations in The New York Times a “total fabrication”. About Stonyof's first-person piece in People magazine, he wrote, “Why didn't the writer of the twelve year old article in People Magazine mention the ‘incident’ in her story. Because it did not happen!”
Trump campaign called the NYT article “fiction”.
The allegations come at a time when Trump is trying to steady his campaign rocked by the release of a 2005 recording in which he boasted about groping women and forcing himself on them. His poll numbers have tanked — he is behind Hillary Clinton by over 6 points, and a large number of leading Republicans have rescinded their endorsements of him.
And he has been struggling with women voters, trailing Clinton by a massive 33 point in a poll conducted for news publication The Atlantic in October. In a nationwide average of polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight portal, he trailed her by 15 points; among men, he leads her by 5 points.
This gender gap, pundits have said, could cost him the election. “It seems fair to say that, if Trump loses the election, it will be because women voted against him,” FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver wrote earlier this week.