October 24th, 2012
01:15 PM ET
2 years ago

GOP Senate candidate accuses Dems of distorting his rape comments

(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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Filed under: Indiana • Richard Mourdock • Senate
soundoff (2,701 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain: The GOPs policies are all PROVEN FAILURES

    Another typical GOP idiot. Beyond that, I'm speechless ... except to say, PLEASE, voters, send these neanderthal GOPers packing on November 6!

    October 23, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  2. CanOnTo

    My blood pressure just went through the roof!

    October 23, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  3. Patricia

    I just hate it when these self righteous zealots talk about things they know nothing about. Rape would be devastating enough but to get pregnant and forced to have some twisted perverts child as a reminder of what was done is unthinkable. Where do these people come from. God has nothing to do with this. In the old testament a man who raped a woman was put to death. That was God's will.

    October 23, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  4. Ralph M

    This clown is so out of touch with reality, he should be committed to a funny farm. These republican fanatics are taking lessons from the talaban.

    October 23, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  5. Name Independent Thinker

    Wonder how these men would feel if their wives, daughters, sister or granddaughters had been raped with a resulting pregnancy. I am amazed at the lack of insensitivity by these men, even further amazed that their wives support them.

    October 23, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  6. repubesareinsane

    WOW!!!!
    thats all i have to say WOW!!

    October 23, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  7. jrhodeisland

    Vote for Joe Donnelly... Drive your neighbors to vote...

    October 23, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  8. Clear and Present Thinker

    The number of Republicans running for Congress seems to be in direct proportion to the failure rate in high school biology with only the fails being allowed on the ticket.

    October 23, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  9. nobikiniatoll

    We don't have to go all the way to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban.

    October 23, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  10. rswon

    And for those who want an answer to the question, "I wonder how stupid, arrogant, self-righteous and ignorant a Republican can be?" Well, you have your answer. The fact anyone considers this man fit for public office is just sad.

    October 23, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  11. harrisonhits2

    Holy crap did this guy really say this ? He needs to find a time machine and go back to the year of our lord 1084 where he'd fit right in.

    October 23, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  12. mailani

    Mourdock is obviously a lunatic. No surprise he's a tea-party guy. What's most notable is his close relationship with Mitt Romney. Romney supported and supports him. What do you think the Romney and the RNC would be saying if the situation was reversed. If you vote for Romney, you are either willfully ignorant or willfully malicious. These politicians that invoke the name of God are the most hypocritical people on the face of the earth.

    October 23, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  13. chris

    When I hear talk like this I find it hard to believe this is happening in America in 2012. It's so puritan. Years from now people will laugh that as we were creating computer driven cars and iPad minis this mumbo jumbo rape talk was happening.

    October 23, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  14. NoTheism

    and how does he know, does he work under the assumption that everything is his god's will? Interesting, then, "he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger" means he's working against god's will...
    What a nut case

    October 23, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  15. Kevin

    BaWhaaaaaaa????

    October 23, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  16. Deez

    This is why atheists won't leave theists alone. It's more than just believing what you want in your own home, but you make decisions that affect others.

    October 23, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  17. prehistoric fools

    I think somewhere, there is an empty cave...that should be reocupied.

    October 23, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  18. reply

    I'm a republican. This guy is absolutely stupid re: rape and God.

    October 23, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  19. todd moore

    What an idiot. Perhaps Mr. Mourdock would reconsider his stance if a female member of his family was assaulted and violated by a criminal. Not to mention it would be nice if the "good Christian folk" of this great nation could get it through their heads that we have a right to not be oppressed by their ideology.

    October 23, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  20. Silence

    And these wacko candidates are coming out of the woodwork. This guy is delusional and more than likely, hearing voices he thinks are God's. Or........maybe he thinks he IS God.

    October 23, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  21. Lilyrosalie

    Here is another idiot in the theme of Akin. He wouldn't feel that way if it was his wife. Looks like another seat for the dems.

    October 23, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  22. chris

    Gotta love how they want the government to make sure women to have the baby but then don't want the government involved after with helping any of these women if they need it... Which sucks for not only the mother but the baby as well. Hey we don't care if you grow up with a crappy miserable life as long as you are born.

    October 23, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  23. Yesorkay

    So he is ready to do anything in the name God. What is the difference between him and stone age mullahs over in middle east? Does he belong to this planet?

    October 23, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  24. scmaize

    According to that "logic", then rape must also be intended by God. We'll see how that holds up when the rapist tries to use it as a defense in court. How do people like this get nominated by the Republican Party, and for the extremely high-level position of U.S. Senator? I will pray that no voters in Indiana are so deluded that they vote for this ignorant and evil man.

    October 23, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  25. Peter

    That is a pretty messed up god. He must live in the same zip code as a psychopathic 4th grader who likes to tear the wings off flies and roast them with a magnifying glass. But god should know better than to do things like that– shouldn't he?

    October 23, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
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