---- — Republican Tom Smith's initial foray into the national limelight came as he struggled to articulate the logical conclusion of pro-life views: That regardless how horribly evil or perfectly beautiful the procreative act is, after conception, life is precious.
Smith had criticized comments from Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin who had suggested women's bodies have means to prevent pregnancy following "legitimate rape." Smith refused to back down from his blanket opposition to abortion in all cases, though.
Earlier this week, Smith, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Sen. Bob Casey was trying to explain his opposition to abortion in all cases when he compared a pregnancy caused by rape to a pregnancy from premarital sex.
Pressed to clarify what he meant, Smith responded "I'm not going to argue about the method of conception. It's a life, and I'm pro-life. It's that simple."
As a matter of policy it is only a shade different from Casey's positions on abortion. Casey has favored overturning the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion and replacing it with legislation that would make abortion legal only in cases of incest, rape or to save the life of the mother.
The abortion kerfuffle should quickly fade away, replaced by renewed focus on Casey's record in office.
Casey has consistently and fearlessly come forward over the past six years to lobby in favor of a variety of worthy initiatives.
A month before Watsontown police warned the public that they had been encountering young people who had been abusing cold medicine, Casey introduced legislation to make it illegal to sell the product to juveniles. The legislation was referred to committee. If the fate of Casey's other legislation is predictive, cold medicine will remain a menace for years to come.
Casey has introduced 383 pieces of legislation and only five of them passed the Senate. None of them became law.
Smith has tried to capitalize on this record of futility by casting Casey as Senator Zero.
Casey with more than $6 million in cash on hand may have the financial resources to beat back those attacks. Voters ought to expect more from someone paid $174,000 a year to represent them than a politician who conjures the illusion of leadership by authoring reams of legislation that go nowhere.
Smith's deer-in-the-headlights moment on the abortion issue may be easier to explain to voters than Casey's six-year record.