State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Smith struggles to explain no-exceptions anti-abortion stance

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 27, 2012 7:09 PM

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Tom Smith’s answer ended cleanly enough.  

After giving a speech in Harrisburg, the former coal industry titan said he is resolutely anti-abortion – no exceptions.  But he slipped and slid on his way to that answer.

When asked by Associated Press reporter Mark Scolforo how to “explain” why women shouldn’t be able to undergo abortions in cases of incest or rape, Smith paused.

“I lived something similar to that with my own family,” said Smith.  “She chose life and I commend her for that,” said Smith, referring to one of his daughters. 

“Similar how?” came the question from Scolforo. 

Smith responded: “Having a baby out of wedlock.”

“That’s similar to rape?” asked Scolforo. 

“No, no, no, but, well, put yourself in a father’s position.  It is similar, yes.  But I’m back to the original – I’m pro-life, period,” said Smith.

Smith had been asked to react to comments made by Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin, who said women’s bodies could inhibit conception in the case of rape. 

(Politics PA beats us at our own game and has the audio -- as well as a less-than-flattering photo of this reporter's right ear.)

Smith won a crowded Republican primary, in part by spending millions of his own money on ads.  Now he’s running against sitting Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey – whose name alone is enough to create a handicap.

“I don’t have a famous political name, but I do have a simple name,” said Smith.  “And that’s what we’re doing, getting people re-introduced or introduced originally to the name Tom Smith. And then we will follow that up in a month or so with Senator Bob Casey’s voting record.”  But Smith didn’t hesitate to take on Casey’s vote for the Affordable Care Act, which Smith said he wants to see repealed. 

The former businessman also said he would work to pass a law requiring members of Congress to forego their pay if they don’t pass a federal budget.  And he opined on the size of government: so large as to be “suffocating,” and badly in need of a top-to-bottom review at the agency level. 

“Every department needs looked at,” said Smith.  “What was their original mission?  Has it been expanded or gone off course?”  He said many could probably be reduced, “and most likely there are a few that could be eliminated in their entirety.”


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