In Pennsylvania, incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is battling Tom Smith, a former Democrat and coal mine owner whose political career has been, up until now, primarily limited to his work on the Plumcreek Township Board of Supervisors. Smith came out of nowhere to win a competitive four-way GOP primary, prevailing over businessman Steve Welch, who was endorsed by the state Republican Party.
Like Casey, Smith is pro-life. Smith’s views on abortion became a noteworthy aspect of the race after he made a perplexing statement in an attempt to distance himself from Missouri Senate contender Todd Akin. As HuffPost's Laura Bassett reported:
Smith said Monday at the Pennsylvania Press Club that although he condemns Akin's comment, he agrees with Akin that abortion should be banned without any exceptions, including for rape and incest victims. Pressed by a reporter on how he would handle a daughter or granddaughter becoming pregnant as a result of rape, Smith said he had already "lived something similar to that" in his 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 the way I thought. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't rape."
When a reporter asked Smith to clarify what kind of situation was similar to becoming pregnant from rape, the candidate responded, "Having a baby out of wedlock."
He added, "Put yourself in a father's position. Yes, it is similar."
Casey is the co-sponsor of the widely-reviled SOPA and PIPA online piracy bills.
As of this writing, Casey enjoys a 49.2-44.1 percent lead in the HuffPost Pollster model, but the race has narrowed considerably since this summer. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is bankrolling a late-stage ad blitz in the hopes of lifting Smith over the top.