Fitzgerald, Buchanan camps trade barbs over rape legislation

MANATEE -- Democratic congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald delivered over 1,200 electronic signatures on petitions to his GOP opponent, Vern Buchanan, protesting Buchanan's definition of rape.

Fitzgerald supporters dropped off the signatures of Florida voters to Buchanan's Sarasota district office, 111 S. Orange Ave., on Friday to "demand that Congressman Buchanan withdraw his support of legislation that would narrow the definition of rape under federal law."

In 2011, Buchanan co-sponsored legislation with U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican who is now a candidate for U.S. senator in Missouri, that sought to change the definition of rape and incest, and limit health care options to women who are victims of so called "forcible rape" only, Fitzgerald said in a news release.

"Congressmen Buchanan and Akin are far outside the mainstream on matters of women's health and also on common sense matters, like the definition of rape," Fitzgerald said earlier this week in a statement.

Buchanan spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said, "It's bad enough you have a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri making reprehensible statements about rape; but for Fitzgerald to blindly follow Nancy Pelosi's lead and dishonestly link it to others is why people hate Washington."

She said that a group of Sarasota women had protested in front of the federal building Friday, seeking an apology from Fitzgerald for "sinking so low as to capitalize on rape."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031.