Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith (PA) was grilled by reporters on Monday after he appeared to compare out-of-wedlock pregnancy to rape, but then quickly and repeatedly denied the analogy.
Reporters asked Smith after he spoke to the Pennsylvania Press Club whether he believed women should be allowed to terminate their pregnancy in cases of rape or incest. Smith said abortion should be banned without any exceptions.
In a follow-up question, Smith was then asked what he would tell his daughter if she became pregnant as the result of a rape.
“I lived something similar to that with my own family,” Smith responded. “She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to — she chose the way I thought. No, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.”
“Similar how?” Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press asked.
“Uh, having a baby out of wedlock,” Smith replied.
The Republican candidate denied that he was comparing out-of-wedlock pregnancy to rape. Smith insisted he used the example of his daughter because both rape and out-of-wedlock pregnancies were difficult situations.
The gaffe is potentially disastrous for Smith in the light of Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) controversial comments. Akin created a national uproar after he claimed women could not become pregnant as the result of a “legitimate rape.” Akin has since lost the support of the Republican Party.
Smith is running against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, who has also described himself as pro-life.