(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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Well, he is a ":teaparty" backed candidate. When you feed off fools, foolish ideas pop into your narrow mind and are spilled as if they were the Word of God. Hypothetically, if he got raped by an AIDS infected male, it would be God's will that he become also infected? This kind of warped logic doesn't work for this Christian.
how in the name of all that is good can this complete whacko have gotten as far as he has?.....people like him are what is ruining this country.
Next to Akin, this is the most dangerous candidate running.......ever heard of separation of church and state.....he should be disqualified from running.
Welcome to republican thinking. WOW !
it boggles the mind to think there are people like this in our government and even more shocking that people vote for characters like this. One would have to revisit our assessment of Taliban as barbarians and do a little introspection to the kind of muck we have at home that needs to be cleaned first.
Here they go again.
Does anyone ever wonder if God gave women the ability to give birth because he knew men couldn't handle the responsibility?
Wow. The war on women is in full swing by these old ultra conservatives. I thought the Tea Party was about economic issues.
You sir are an idiot who's never been raped. I cannot say that I don't wish this on you as some people only know when they walk in another's shoes. Oh and you be sure you tell your view to a 12 year old who's been raped. Rape is not an act of God it is an act of violence. Moron.
This guy is really, really out there.
I understand and believe Richard Mourdouk when he says he thinks rape is horrible. But I'm sorry, what was he exactly saying? "It is something God intended to happen," but then says "God doesn't want rape." Which is it? And no matter how you look at that, there's no way around the fact that what he said IS incredibly insensitive to rape victims. This man should apologize and move on.
Gee...., GOP really does not surprise me with that kind of comment. I wish somebody would ask him what he thinks if HIS wife or daughter is raped and pregnant a baby. Would he have the gut to say the same and be willing to keep the baby?
Please for the love of all that is sacred and good in the world get these people out of positions of influence. The utter absurdity that men like this could be in positions to lead and influence others is just too much.
another educated remark by the right wing relgious soldiers. No surprise here.
Richard Mourdock, running for U.S. Senate in Indiana, said after being hit by a bus that accidents resulting from drunk driving are intended by God.
I am always so impressed when people say they know what God wants.
Embarrassed to live in the same state as Murdoch. He's scary.
and if somebody wiped this guy off the face of the earth, it would be god's will. These right wing lunatics are a danger to this country. It's ironic that they have so much in common with the the islamic theocracies that they love to hate
this is too funny. i think gop's are now going to try and outdo each other on their lack of knowledge regarding human biology. to see who can appeal to under-educated hicks the most. how stupid can they get!
What will it take to prevent these conservative lunatics from ever holding office again?
*is stunned in silence over the incredible ignorance before him*
Aright, we are counting on you voters in Indiana to do the right thing and make sure this guy is not elected.
And to think: Indiana Republicans turned out Richard Lugar and in doing so applied that lame reasoning that a lot of people use to make themselves feel enlightened when they're really in fact ignorant. "It's time we got some new blood in there". And so this is the guy they wanted to replace Lugar?
Can someone tell me what this "American Exceptionalism" is, and why we supposedly possess it, when guys like this and Todd Akin are getting elected?