(CNN) - U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said Wednesday that he is sorry if he offended anyone by saying that pregnancies from rape are "something that God intended to happen" but accused Democrats of distorting his comments for political gain.
"For those who want to kind of twist the comments and use them for partisan, political gain, I think that's what's wrong with Washington these days," the Indiana candidate said. "I spoke from my heart; I spoke with my principle; I spoke from my faith. And if others want to somehow turn those words and use them against me, again, that's what's wrong with Washington today.
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"It is win at any costs. Let's make up issues when we can't find real ones. Let's twist, let's distort, let's deceive. And I think that's a sad process."
His initial comments came during a debate Tuesday with Democratic congressman Joe Donnelly, and they prompted outrage among liberals who accuse the GOP of seeking to undermine women's rights.
"Mr. Mourdock's lack of compassion for rape survivors is callous, insulting and completely out of touch," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Mourdock became the Republican Senate nominee after toppling longtime incumbent Richard Lugar in a bitter primary fight. The Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, which had endorsed Lugar, announced Wednesday that it was endorsing Donnelly in part because of Mourdock's pregnancy comment.
The newspaper, which has readers in southern Indiana, wrote that Mourdock's statement "exceeded extreme" and that Donnelly represented "the only rational choice for voters."
The flap erupted after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney endorsed Mourdock in a television commercial this week. In a statement issued Wednesday, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the presidential hopeful "disagrees with Richard Mourdock, and Mr. Mourdock's comments do not reflect Gov. Romney's views" - but Romney still supports him, she said.
The head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, stood behind Mourdock as well.
"Richard and I, along with millions of Americans - including even Joe Donnelly - believe that life is a gift from God," Cornyn said in a written statement. "To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous. In fact, rather than condemning him for his position, as some in his party have when it's come to Republicans, I commend Congressman Donnelly for his support of life."
Donnelly has said he opposes abortion but would allow exceptions for rape and incest and when the life of the mother is endangered.
The controversy comes two months after Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP Senate nominee in Missouri, touched off a firestorm over the same issue when he said "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy. Akin faced a backlash from most of his own party as well as Democrats but defied calls to step aside from numerous GOP leaders, including Romney.
A senior GOP strategist said Mourdock may not face as much pushback from Republican leaders, given the limited time remaining before Election Day and the importance of holding the Indiana seat. But Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, canceled plans to campaign with Mourdock on Wednesday.
Ayotte spokesman Jeff Grappone said in a statement, "She disagrees with Treasurer Mourdock's comments, which do not represent her views." And the GOP candidate for governor in Indiana, Rep. Mike Pence, said in a statement issued Wednesday, "I strongly disagree with the statement made by Richard Mourdock during last night's Senate debate. I urge him to apologize."
And Democrats swiftly pounced on the remark. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued a statement describing the comment as "outrageous and demeaning to women" and called on Romney to take down his ad. Democratic groups and their allies put out web videos Wednesday morning to highlight Mourdock's comments.
"As Mourdock's most prominent booster and star of Mourdock's current campaign ads, Mitt Romney should denounce these comments more strongly than he has," DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said. "He should go further and demand that the ad featuring him speaking directly to the camera on Mourdock's behalf be taken off the air, and Mitt Romney should withdraw his endorsement of Mourdock immediately."
Mourdock was explaining his opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest when he made his remark.
"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen," said Mourdock, the Indiana state treasurer. He added that he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life was in danger.
Seeking to clarify his comments, Mourdock said Wednesday that "I absolutely abhor violence. I absolutely abhor any kind of sexual violence. I abhor rape, and I am absolutely confident that, as I stand here, the God that I worship abhors violence, abhors sexual violence and abhors rape. The God that I worship would never, ever want to see evil done.
"So many people mistook, twisted, came to misunderstand the points that I was trying to make. ... If they came away with any impression other than that, I truly regret it."
CNN's Kevin Liptak, Dana Bash, Paul Steinhauser, Rachel Streitfeld and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.
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CNNplease let readers know that Gov Romney endorsed this guy and cut an ad for him this week.
An d Jesus came to America, to a guy named Joe Smith and told him he can have as many wives as he wants so he wouldn't have to go through all the trouble of explaining rape and pregnancies.... REPUBLICANS LEAVE IT ALONE!
Ignorance is certainly alive and well in Indiana. How dare the state allow this idiot to be accepted as a candidate for any public office that represents all the citizens of the state.
Who raises these cave men and what God do they pray too. This is why education is so important.
Just keep it up, rethugs! let everyone see just exactly how sick and evil you are. sooner or later, even your base will see you're not fit to govern anything.
Terrible example of "the ends justifies the means"!
God has close to 7 billion plans one for everyone us on the planet earth.
You know you're a terrible candidate when you're a Republican losing Indiana.
he still thinks the earth is round as well...
Great... then that means anytime someone is murdered, it was clearly their time, because that would be God's Will as well... right?? Where are these nutcases coming from??? God's Will to be raped and become pregnant??? Seriously???
Earth to you, Mourdock: you ARE saying that God intends for this terrible act to result in pregnancies. It's appalling that anyone in this day and age would still believe something so disgusting.
If there really were a god, by now he would have come back and stomped all over these crazies...
Wow, just when I thought a person could not be any more stupid.
Wow. And these guys are serious. And expect to be taken seriously. And they're candidates for public office!
Far too many GOPers are simply stupid.
No one should for vote for any GOPers until GOPers get the message. The country is better off with a conservative faction capable of intellectual honesty.
Babies who are the product of rape, are no less human than those conceived in the course of marriage.
This article is part of the attempt give the Prez a whirlwind of support amid dismal polling numbers by slamming the GOP in various ways. The real outrage ought to be directed toward those politicians who advocate for infanticide (aka abortion, aka pregnancy termination), not toward Mr. Mourdock . Funny, many liberal, gray-haired, aging hippies used to call veterans baby killers...Now they actually advocate the practice.
Baffling that pregnancy is the one time bodily functions and dysfunctions are 'God ordained' and not to be toyed with... unless he believes cancer, birth defects, devastating autoimmune diseases etc etc are also God's will and, therefore, shouldn't be subject to the intervention of mere human physicians.
Walsh said. "There's no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has been, has become a tool for abortions any time under any reason."
This is an excerpt of what the American college of Obstetricians and Gynecologists had to say about the remarks of Walsh. "These inaccurate comments are yet another reason why The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ message to politicians is unequivocal: Get out of our exam rooms."
this is a classic example of failed education systems
Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has. Try polling any other developed nation and see how many "creationists" and "literalists" there are. You won't find many. 'merica!
His god is not my God.
Go join the taliban, jerk.
GOP candidates are sick. You throw them from Washington monument, so their death will be God's will!
And this toad will probably get elected. How scary is it that we now have God deciding that a woman should be raped? And this guy is going to be deciding what's best for MY country?
The world has given up on you.