(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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soundoff (No Response) Mourdock DESERVES NO RESPONSES ! ! !
Ladies and gentleman, your Republican Party Candidate
Where the heck are these crazy Republicans coming from? First, the woman can shut down her reproductive process during a rape and now it is a gift from God that she got raped and pregnant? I am sure rapists are happy to hear that they aren't committing crimes, they are instead bearing 'gifts'.
Anybody who will vote for these freaks are pathetic. These people are the reason our once great country is now full of religious nutjobs.
The likelihood of rape-induced pregnancy has radically changed, i.e., rape-induced pregnancy can theoretically be virtually eliminated with the advent of widely available emergency contraceptives. However, related laws have not changed in step - apparently, if a women decides to have an abortion, she can still simply whisper the pass-code "rape" - done deal– despite whether or not she actually initially decided to become pregnant, e.g., decided not to take emergency contraceptive. This may be why the term "legitimate rape" was 'born' – since false "whispers" of rape should perhaps be "illegitimate" pass codes, especially for late stage abortions.
I don't know whats more stupid the things they say or the people who actually vote for these morons.
And this is why it's stupid to believe in God.
Mr. Mourdock, all you have to do it put yourself in the woman's spot. If she has no option but to have the baby, every time she will look at the kid, she will be reminded of the rape. Also, what right you think men have to control a women. It should be her choice.
Yay, more religion in politics, because that has worked so well in the past.
Where does the Republican Party get these morons from?
I think that is Mr. Mourdocks right, if he ever gets pregnant by getting raped he can have the kid. Mr. Walsh, however, should be forced to have an abortion since he wouldn't take care of his kid anyways, afterall he was over 130,000 dollars behind in his child support at one time. Hey if you guys want less government try staying out of other peoples business!! Ecspecially this character Walsh. Just read that guys bio on wikipedia, like I want a loser like that telling me how I should live my life, by the way jerkof,f I don't pay any child support either, because I've never gotten a divorce.Why do these guys want to let business do whatever they want and then try to poke their noses in our personal lives whenever they want?
I bet everyone is kicking themselves for voting for him in the primaries. He has an idiot mouthpiece.
If you don't agree with him don't vote for him. He didn't say he approved of rape all he said is life is a gift. No matter who you vote for let's stop twisting words and let our vote count.
People DO realize, that to ALL religious people, every action is "God's will." Why is this news?
This guy is as clueless as that idiot Akin is. Are all these republican candidates this wacko, and against women's rghts?
The biggest issue I have with this argument is that Mr Mourdock presumes a belief in HIS God, and that all who DO believe in HIS God (everyone – in his world) should not be allowed to have abortions. Sorry..... but I DON'T believe in HIS GOD, or any God for that matter. And I refuse to submit myself to the will of His God or ANYONE's, nor to the will of his minions.
Richard Mourdock, running for U.S. Senate in Indiana, just stop running for anything. You're a world class idiot. It's not God's will, it's a rapist's will. And, it's the citizen's will of the United States that you never, ever serve in government much less a restaurant. Do this country a favor and disappear.
What this ... person – and I use that term lightly – believes is sick and egregious. He should be ashamed of himself. I know I'm ashamed of him.
Wow...un friggin believable. These gopers just do not get it! Time for these bible thumpers to EVOLVE into the 21st century and keep your ignorant nasty anti-women rhetoric to yourself. Better yet, go home your repugnant gopers...stay home.
Amazing. Simply amazing, but we'll take the Senate seat. You keep talking Dick, just keep talking.
Then Donnelly's God is not the God of the Bible. His God is not sovereign and there are people conceived through rape which He did not intend to exist.
Another GOP nut!
Really ??? What about murder ??? I bet that's also Will of God then !! What's wrong with these morons ???
I would be interested if someone violated you in the most invasive and horrible way and what came of that would and should be okay with the government to say Yes, its bad but dont do anything about it. Its okay. God says its okay. Dont ask anyone to help. The legislatures on the hill will support you and what you went through, but dont ask to change it or anything that happened because it is okay.
and GOD said unto her: "Since you are being raped you might as well get pregnant".
I guess it is also GOD's will that you are such an IDIOT.
If God had anything to do with any rape and allow the rape to occur then God is as guilty as the raper.