(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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Pregnancies from rape cannot be God's will, but He is Almighty and can turn all evil into good as He did for Ruth, the Moabitess.
I am a woman and understood what he was saying CNN. He said that he believes that a life is a life – even in the worst case scenarios like rape. You can agree to disagree. He did not say that it's "God's will" when a woman is raped. I can't understand how you will headline a story like this, but then hide the Benghazi story (with over 8,000 comments). Bias.
may god strike Mourdock down with laryngitis if he ever says such stupid things again
So, I guess miscarriages are God's will too. Guess we should take Him to court.
Stuff like this is why the GOP's base has been progressively declining. People get tired of hearing M0R0NIC garbage like this come from their mouths.
I don't think anyone was suggesting that the rape was god's plan, but it is awfully insensitive to suggest that the product of a rape is. Only a male would come up with such a suggestion. I want no part of this god
How was his comment "misunderstood"? I swear these repubs are seriously ignorant. It's there in black and white exactly what he said.
Again, somebody else's fault for their own words. We need statesmen, not career politicians on the take.
No one is twisting your words to make you look like an idiot.
Your words are doing a great job by themselves.
CNN needs stories like this to cover for the Obama lie about Libya.
The most important thing to happen when one is born is the breath of life that begins in him. At death, the last thing to go is that life's breath. It is given and taken by God.
I guess miscarriages, then, are God's will. We'd better take Him to court.
He better get his heart checked. He better find a new religion, without a lot of faith. He better try to become a real human being.
Another lunatic. I saw the video and heard what he said... didn't seem very distorted to me.
I don't question your right to have a religious opinion.....I question your right to be a senator in a country, the USA that demands separation of church and state, and frankly you are not up to the commitment to take that oath......You should IMMEDIATELY RESIGN YOUR CAMPAIGN.
If Romney is 'elected' that will be God's will or will it be Billy Graham's will? 'God's Will' is getting muddled...
Hey Indiana ... Please elect this guy so that my state can stop being the butt of late night jokes.
If babies conceived in rape don't deserve to live, then should we kill anyone alive who was born from rape? Life is life regardless of how it began.
The only 'twisted' thing here is this psycho sicko and his religious nutbag lunacy. Sane people don't say things like this man has said and clearly believes. These pieces of garbage make me disgusted in humanity and my fellow 'men'. If you vote Repuby, you vote for garbage like this. Conservatives politicians don't exist in the USA, only psycho hard right lunatics. Two rape supporters (yes they do support it if it is gods will and they believe in 'gods will') in just as many months, and these are just the ones dumb enough to let it slip.
The GOP is just hypocritical. The logical conclusion of the republican position for opposing abortion– that life begins at conception and it is a gift from god– is that all abortion is prohibited. Rape, incest, mom could die, it does not matter becasue god has spoken. If you beleive that, fine, don't have an abortion. Roe v. Wade provided a judicous resolution to the question of abortion. During the first trimester the government has no insterest in the potential life residing within the existing life. Let "less government" start with you nasty old men keeping your noses out of women's uteruses. Keep abortion safe, legal and rare.
Agreed! Republican = PRO-RAPE! "If it gets the babies made! Bring it on!"
Cornyn.................If you truly believe that rape is based on God's will, you too should either voted out, or RESIGN.
Wow, just wow.
And we wonder why our country is in such a mess, we still have the Puritans running things!
When I heard the clip from the debate, I was actually refreshed that a politician actually spoke completely candidly. I completely disagree with him, but AS A CITIZEN he voiced his own opinions and very personal views. Where he screws up is the LEEETLe problem that he wants to be a public representative and must therefore be able to divorce his personal beliefs from the public good. Furthermore, he shouldn't whine when other people don't agree with him saying, "How dare they play politics when a politician reveals the personal standards he would use to legislate!" The man is an imbecile.