Long-shot Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith of Pennsylvania stepped into the politically treacherous waters of the women's rights debate on Monday, making himself the latest in an ever-growing list of GOP politicos who have found themselves putting their feet in their mouths after flubbing a comment on the topic.
Appearing at a luncheon in Harrisburg, Penn., Smith drew a comparison between rape and his daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy, which came about as the result of consensual sex, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
Women's issues have been front-and-center this campaign season ever since Missouri Congressman and GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin made his now-infamous comments suggesting that women's bodies have the ability to stave off pregnancy in the case of a "legitimate rape" of a woman.
"What that congressman said I do not agree with at all. He should have never said anything like that," Smith said in reference to the Akin scandal, according to the Patriot-News.
"I lived something similar to that with my own family," Smith said, then went on to explain how is daughter got pregnant during consensual, out-of-wedlock 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."
He then said he thought there are parallels for a father to have a daughter raped or to have her become pregnant while unmarried: "Put yourself in a father's position, yes, I mean it is similar."
Later at the same event he backtracked and tried to explain himself: "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."
There is no scientific basis whatsoever to Akin's claim about women having the ability to stave off pregnancies after being raped, which was thoroughly debunked centuries ago, but it is one of many kooky and dangerous beliefs held by some of the most extreme social conservatives in the Republican party.
Since Akin's remarks, which infuriated millions of rape survivors, womens' rights advocates and others across the nation, gaffes by Republicans discussing his words have happened repeatedly, and Smith is now just the newest of a crew of men who may not be getting as many womens' votes as they thought this November.
Unlike Akin, who is still doing well in Missouri and could beat his Democratic opponent, Claire McCaskill, Tom Smith seems unlikely to make it to Congress.
Smith is polling 18 points behind his opponent, Sen. Bob Casey, according to the PollTracker Average.
Megan Piwowar, a spokesman for Smith, told Talking Points Memo that the comments were "inartful" but argued that he did not indeed compare rape to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
"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.'"