(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.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
"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.
Also on the CNN Political Ticker
– GOP Senate candidate accuses Dems of distorting his rape comments
– Clint Eastwood returns, stars in new super PAC ad
– Obama ad uses ghost of recount past
– Romney campaign and allies far outspending Democrats
– Trump's new charity drive
– Obama ready for 'all-nighter'
emm, you're as sick as the rest of em. Plain and simple.......sick.
It puts the lotion on it's skin or it gets the hose again!!!
Romney feels that same way.
Why do so many GOPers live in the 18th century?
I can't ever believe that if a young girl is raped that it's God's will to destroy her life....that God gave a rapist life so that he could inflict misery and pain...that God created murderers for just that purpose. How outrageous these Republicans are.
Every baby is a beautiful, unique and precious gift with equal dignity, value, and right to life.
How does conception through rape change any of that?
I get it now!!! If a woman is legitimately raped, then her body will reject the man, and she won't get pregnant. If she gets pregnant, then it is God's will and not actually rape at all.
WOW VOTE THE GOPers OUT!!!!
Being a woman who is a die-hard Republican for economic reasons, I think it's Republicans like this that need to quickly distance themselves from our party. These idiotic, chauvinistic, old men who make these rape comments DO NOT represent Republicans as a whole. I still will never EVER EVER vote Democratic, though. I believe that's WORSE
What is worse? Details, please.
You tea party people scare me
By this guy's logic, EVERYTHING that happens is the will of God – including any and all conceivably bad things.
Thank GOD I'm an atheist!!
Yea...another one on our side showing how we want religion to dictate how we are governed...Yea...we're American's Taliban.
Ignorance is bliss. This guy must be ecstatic...
The scary thing is Republicans have traditionally had more problems regarding ignoranance, lacking in knowledge or unaware of certain facts. This is because people who are conservative tend to be more closed minded and more apt to disregard science, public opinion, empirical evidence or even direct evidence. Regardless who you are it is important to try and remain open minded and to realize that no matter how painful it may be, the possesion of knowledge is a good thing.
I truly regret that this guy should be drawn and quartered.
Scenario#1 : An 11yr old girl is raped by satanic cult members. The assault leaves the girl pregnant. Still no abortion?
In this way of thinking.......If you or I go out shopping today and get hit by a truck....it's Gods willl.......I don't buy it for a minute If this were true.....none of us would still be here....one way or another we would all disappear!!!!!!
I am so glad these men know what it feels like to be raped...what it feels like to become pregnant after being raped...and oh yes that they now can determine the health of the mother during pregnancy!!! Give me a break....none of these men have the right to determine my rights as a woman...how dare you!
Also, emm...you need to wake up...I have yet to hear a republican stand up for the rights of women and this article just proves what I have known all along
Republicans want to redistrict states to reduce minority voting power at the polls and eliminate women's right to control her own body.. It starting to look like that the Republicans will not be satisfied until blacks will not be able to vote and women are back barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.
This guy wants everyone to live the way he thinks they should.
I want him to live the way I think he should, he needs to go home and stay out of puclic life
. Neather one of us will get our way.
Another white guy defining women's experience...Adkins from MO, now Murdock from IN, representative of a wide demographic of clueless guys who've spent too much time in church and not enough time in research and reading. How women can vote for these guys is hard for me to comprehend. However, these guys do provide some excellent entertainment value.
This candidate is taking his cue from Romney by saying he didn't mean what he very clearly said.
Your statement is historically inaccurate. Our freedoms and rights in this country are the results from Christian Principles. You say religion can do good in the world, but this is at the other end of the specturm
How is his statement bad? It is a very biblical statement. Sometimes men do evil things like rape, but God in his providence brings good from the evil actions of men. Joseph in Genesis Chapter 50 was sold into slavery because his brothers desired to do evil to him. God intended that this take place so that many could be saved in the years famine, including Joseph's family, all a direct result of the evil intentions of Joseph's brothers.
In the same way, a baby from a horrible act of rape could be a blessing to the mother, or to adopting parents, or even to the world if that child does something important like developing a cure for MS or other diseases. So God can equally condemn the evil actions of the individual and bring about good in its place.
Mourdock in no way is commending or saying it is good for rape to take place or that he believes God thinks rape is good. Please read and think Critically.
Detada, that is just bizarre logic. It doesn't even address what he said which is God can make good things happen despite the evil intentions of the rapist.
the media distort....no way... they dont try to help one side more than another....
Pregnant from a rape? It's god's gift and you will live with that the rest of your life. Literally. This guy a joke?! Romney endorsed this guy just days ago!