GREENSBORO (North Carolina) • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has hurled personal insults at a growing number of women who accuse him of groping and kissing them without their consent, labelling them as "horrible", "sick" and "phoney" and suggesting that at least two of them were not attractive enough to warrant his attention.
Mr Trump launched into his defence at rallies in North Carolina last Friday, saying he was being attacked with lies and slander.
"I am a victim of one of the great political smear campaigns in the history of our country," he said.
He sought to belittle Ms Jessica Leeds, who first told The New York Times that he groped her and tried to reach up her skirt on a flight more than three decades ago.
"I was sitting with him on an airplane and he went after me on the plane," he said, mockingly impersonating Ms Leeds.
"Believe me, she would not be my first choice," he told supporters.
He also called another accuser, former People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff, a "liar". "Check out her Facebook, you'll understand," he said to laughter from the crowds. Ms Stoynoff had accused Mr Trump of kissing her without permission in 2005 as she prepared to interview him and his wife Melania for a story.
The wave of allegations came after a 2005 video was released by The Washington Post showing Mr Trump boasting in crude and profane terms about forcing himself on women sexually.
Another two women came forward on Friday.
Ms Kristin Anderson said Mr Trump slid his hand under her miniskirt at a nightclub in the early 1990s, while Ms Summer Zervos accused him of aggressively kissing her and groping her breast in 2007.
Mr Trump appeared to reference one of the claims at the rally, saying: "One came out recently where I was sitting alone in some club. I really don't sit alone that much." Ms Anderson never told The Washington Post that Mr Trump was alone.
"And then I went 'whaa'," he said, as he abruptly reached to the side with his right hand, apparently mimicking the groping.
The Post also reported on six recordings of interviews which Mr Trump did on The Howard Stern Show between 2002 and 2013.
In one 2004 clip, Mr Trump talked about actress Lindsay Lohan, saying deeply troubled women are "always the best in bed".
President Barack Obama, who campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the swing state of Ohio on Friday, blasted Mr Trump as a dictator-in-the-making, and voiced concern about how the latter's supporters might react to defeat.
He said: "All the progress we made in the last eight years is on the ballot. Democracy itself is on the ballot right now."
WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE