Clout: Did Pa. GOP Senate hopeful join Todd Akin club?

Posted: August 29, 2012

 TOM SMITH  , the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, is not going to the Republican National Convention this week.

After the day Smith had Monday, Mitt Romney and company are probably relieved to hear it.

Smith, speaking after an event in Harrisburg, may have become the latest member of the Todd Akin political pariah club. Akin, a Missouri congressman running for the Senate, embarrassed the GOP last week by suggesting women's bodies prevent them from getting pregnant during a "legitimate rape."

Smith was asked Monday by an Associated Press reporter how he would explain his no-exceptions stance on abortion to a daughter if she became pregnant after a rape. In an audio recording on PoliticsPA.com, Smith can be heard saying he had "something similar with my own family" when one of his daughters had "a baby out of wedlock."

Asked if he was comparing having a baby out of wedlock to rape, Smith said "No, no, no . . . but put yourself in a father's situation, yes. It is similar." Pressed to explain, he said: "I'm not going to argue about the method of conception."

Democrats quickly circulated Smith's comments.

Jim Conroy, Smith's campaign manager, later said Smith was "offering personal context" for families making difficult decisions about pregnancy and abortion.

"We're certainly concerned about it," Conroy said, noting the party backlash against Akin. "He was trying to offer more, probably more than he should have."

Santorum on welfare

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is dialed up to be Romney's pit bull Tuesday on changes President Obama's administration made to the 1996 welfare overhaul.

Santorum, due to address the convention at 7 p.m., accused Obama of having "absolute contempt for the law and the Constitution" earlier this month. At issue: The Health and Human Services Department offered waivers to states for welfare-to-work programs.

Romney's campaign accused Obama of trying to "gut welfare reform." But the waivers are available only to states that move at least 20 percent more people from welfare to work. A state can lose the waiver if it misses that mark.

Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, one of two GOP governors to express interest in the waivers, speaks after Santorum. That could be a little awkward backstage.

Romney, as governor of Massachusetts in 2005, was one of 29 Republican governors who sent a letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, asking for waivers similar to what Santorum is expected to attack in his speech.

Will AFP forfeit in Pa.?

Americans for Prosperity, the conservative nonprofit linked to billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, is pulling from Pennsylvania airwaves TV ads it has been running to criticize President Obama's record.

Documents filed Monday with the Federal Communications Commission show AFP ads coming down on 6ABC and NBC 10 in the Philadelphia media market.

"We're making changes to our ad flights frequently - nothing necessarily stays the same for long," AFP spokesman Levi Russell emailed. "Beyond that, we actually don't discuss details of our own internal strategy."

Ben LaBolt, Obama's national campaign press secretary, seized on a Monday morning tweet from Chuck Todd of MSNBC that said: "Americans for Prosperity (the Koch group) has canceled the rest of their PA TV ad buy. Still up in other swing states including MN and NM."

No Trump RNC show?

Russ Schriefer, a Romney campaign strategist, said Sunday that squeezing four days of convention into three days meant that some events deemed "not essential" would be cut.

Donald Trump, the big-money birther-conspiracy theorist, was originally scheduled to spring some sort of surprise during Monday's opening ceremonies.

Now Trump is off the schedule.

But RNC officials know better than to paint the famously thin-skinned and media-hungry Trump as not essential or to predict that he would miss an event with a television camera.

"Just because he's not here, that doesn't mean he isn't showing up," Schriefer said Monday.

Quotable:

" With none of this am I alleging conspiracy. All last week what was the target? Tampa. What was going on in Tampa this week?"

- Rush Limbaugh on his national radio show Monday, noting that the government's National Hurricane Center forecast Tropical Storm Isaac heading toward Tampa at the start of the GOP Convention and now tracks the storm heading toward the Gulf Coast on the anniversary of Katrina.


Contact Chris Brennan at brennac@phillynews.com or 215-854-5973. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN. Read his blog at phillyclout.com

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