Casey & Smith mix it up in lone U.S. Senate debate

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. and his republican opponent, former coal company owner Tom Smith, were sticking to their political game plans more than half-way through an hour long debate Friday morning when moderator Jim Gardner threw a curve-ball.  Casey could hit that pitch.  Smith had more trouble.

"Indiana [U.S.] Senate candidate Richard Mourdock has said that, quote, life is that gift from God and I think that even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen" said Gardner, an anchor at 6ABC. Gardner asked the candidates if they agreed.  Both said no, denouncing the comments Mourdock, a Tea Party favorite, made during a debate Tuesday.

Casey, who opposes abortion," called it an "outrageous statement," using the question as one of the several times during the debate that he called on bi-partisan efforts on federal policy. Casey said Democrats and Republicans should cooperate to reduce abortions through contraception and family planning.

Smith, who founded a Tea Party group in Armstrong County, said he disagreed with Mourdock but then quickly tried to pivot to economic issues he has been using to criticize Casey's record.  Gardner cut him off, redirecting him to the question. 

Smith declared himself "pro-life, period," opposing abortion in all circumstances, including if a woman's life was endangered by a pregnancy.  But he stumbled, calling Gardner "Larry" twice during his answer even after being corrected the first time. 

"Once again, I'm Jim," Gardner advised after the second mistake.

6ABC will broadcast the debate at 1 p.m. on Sunday.  It will be rebroadcast on C-Span at 3 p.m. on Sunday, PHL-17 10:30 p.m. on Sunday and the Pennsylvania Cable Network at 10 a.m. on Monday.