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Friday
Oct292010

Florida Republican Candidate Reveals Rape in TV Campaign Ad

Photo Courtesy - votelizbeth[dot]com(LOXAHATCHEE, Fla.) -- With just days to go until Election Day, a Florida state senate candidate has used a televised campaign ad to drop a very personal bombshell.

"When I was 19 I was raped," Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto reveals to viewers. "And until now I've dealt with this privately."

The eleventh-hour advertisement attacked her opponent, Democratic State Rep. Kevin Rader, for what she said was his assertion, made in his own televised ad, that Benacquisto's stance on abortion rights made criminals out of rape victims.

"For anyone to go so far in a political ad to characterize or claim that victims of rape or incest would become criminals crosses a line," she told ABCNews.com Friday. "I couldn't stand for any woman hearing that and thinking any of that was true."

Benacquisto's ad, which began airing Wednesday in Florida, has earned both praise and criticism.

"I'm at peace with any criticism that comes my way," she said. "I did it despite the fact that people, especially him, would criticize me."

Rader could not be reached for comment, but his campaign released a statement to ABC's West Palm Beach affiliate WPBF saying his "heart breaks for anyone who has been the victim of rape."

"It's stories like Ms. Benacquisto's that have led me to be so passionate about defending victims' rights and a woman's right to choose," the statement read, in part.

At issue is the candidates' debate over abortion rights, specifically an amendment that was passed this year by the Florida legislature and then vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist that would require a woman to see an ultrasound of her fetus before an abortion.

Rader has been quoted as staunchly opposed to the measure. Benacquisto said she supports the idea of an ultrasound before a woman chooses to have an abortion. She does not want the same rule applied to sexual assault victims because "they come to that choice from something that was forced on them."

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