Pennsylvania Senate candidate Tom Smith is the latest Republican to bungle a response to Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s controversial comment about rape and pregnancy.
“What that congressman said I do not agree with at all. He should have never said anything like that,” Smith told reporters Monday, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News, during a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg Monday — referring to Akin’s suggestion that women’s bodies can block a pregnancy from rape.
“I lived something similar to that with my own family,” Smith said. He then described his daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy — from consensual sex.
“She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views but fortunately for me … she chose the way I thought. Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t rape.”
Smith affirmed that he believed his daughter’s pregnancy from consensual sex was similar to a rape. “Put yourself in a father’s position, yes, I mean it is similar.”
But he quickly clarified during the same event that he was not comparing the two situations: “No … I said I went through a situation [with a daughter]. It’s very, very difficult. But do I condone rape? Absolutely not. But do I propose life, yes I do. I’m pro-life, period.”
Smith’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM.
Smith is trailing Democratic Sen. Bob Casey by 18 points, according to the PollTracker Average.
Smith’s communications director Megan Piwowar told TPM that Smith’s comments were “inartful” but did not amount to a comparison between out-of-wedlock pregnancy and rape.
“Tom Smith is committed to protecting the sanctity of life and believes it begins at conception. 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.’”
PoliticsPA has a transcript and audio from the event, including this exchange with an Associated Press reporter:
AP: Similar how?
Smith: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.
AP: 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.