Pennsylvania Senatorial candidate Tom Smith is the latest Republican to make an unfortunate comment on rape, hot on the heels of now notorious Missouri Representative Todd Akin.
At a press conference on Monday in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Mr Smith, a former coal mining magnate turned political hopeful, that while he did not agree with Mr Akin, he did have a zero-tolerance policy toward abortion, even in cases of rape.
He then referred to his own ‘experience’ of his daughter’s choice to have a child out of wedlock, from consensual sex, saying ‘It is similar… I’m pro-life, period.’
Gaffe: Pennsylvania Senatorial candidate Tom Smith, left, is the latest Republican to make an unfortunate comment on rape, hot on the heels of now notorious Missouri Representative Todd Akin
His representatives have declared that the reports have taken his comments out of context, though transcripts of the event leave little to interpretation.
Mr Smith is running on the Republican ticket to outset freshman Democratic Senator Bob Casey in November.
Appearing at a luncheon at the Pennsylvania Press Club, he spoke to reporters about Todd Akin’s comments on rape.
‘What that congressman said I do not agree with at all. He should have never said anything like that,’ he said, according to PoliticsPA.
He went on to declare he was ‘pro-life, period.’
Reporters followed up by asking how he might approach a daughter or a granddaughter who was the victim of rape and became pregnant.
‘I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that,’ he said.
‘She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.’
Reporters zeroed in on his comparison and asked him how it was similar to rape.
‘Uh, having a baby out of wedlock,’ he said.
‘That’s similar to rape?’ a reporter asked.
‘No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period,’ he said.
‘I’m not going to argue about the method of conception.’
His campaign has issued a rebuttal to the coverage of his comments, saying that his statements were ‘less than artful.’
‘Tom Smith is committed to protecting the sanctity of life and believes it begins at conception,’ they said.
‘While his answers to some of the questions he faced at the Pennsylvania Press club may have been less than artful, at no time did he draw the comparison that some have inferred. When questioned if he was drawing that comparison, Tom’s answer was clear, ‘no, no, no.’’
Mr Smith’s prospects for wining the race were already slim, a Philadelphia Inquirer poll out Monday had incumbent Bob Casey up 19 points, meaning these latest comments may finish the race.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HE MEANT? READ THE ENTIRE TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Robert Vickers, Patriot News: In light of Congressman Akin’s comments, is there any situation that you think a woman should have access to an abortion?
Tom Smith: My stance is on record and it’s very simplistic: I’m pro-life, period. And what that Congressman said, I do not agree with at all. He should have never said anything like that.
Vickers: So in cases of incest or rape…
Laura Olson, Post-Gazette: No exceptions?
Controversial: He then referred to his own ‘experience’ of his daughter’s choice to have a child out of wedlock, from consensual sex, saying ‘It is similar… I’m pro-life, period’
Smith: No exceptions.
Mark Scolforo, Associated Press: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?
Smith: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.
Scolforo: Similar how?
Smith: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.
Scolforo: That’s similar to rape?
Smith: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.
[Another question on an unrelated topic]
John Micek, Morning Call: Mr. Smith, can I ask you to clarify one more time the question that Mark asked you. Did I just hear you say that having a child out of wedlock is analogous to rape?
Smith: No, I did not say that.
Scolforo: You did say that.
Micek: But you did say it, sir.
(Noise as a Smith campaign aide sought to answer, but Scolforo insisted Smith answer).
Scolforo: But you did say that.
Smith: I said I went through a situation.
Scolforo: With your daughter, with a daughter.
Smith: And it’s very, very difficult. But do I condone rape? Absolutely not. Do I propose life? Yes I do. I’m pro-life, period.
Scolforo: So what’s the similarity between those two, in other words? Just that there’s a decision involved?
Smith: (Pause.) A life is a life, and it needs protected. Who’s going to protect it? We have to. I mean that’s, I believe life begins at conception. I’m not going to argue about the method of conception. It’s a life, and I’m pro-life. It’s that simple.