(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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""I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I realized that life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen," Mourdock said, explaining that he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger."
What kind of sick god is this individual worshiping? What god intends for rape to happen as a way to "gift" women with pregnancies?" What about miscarriages (spontaneous abortions) – are those also ordained by god and doesn't that make god the biggest purveyor of abortions in the whole Universe? I don't understand why Mourdock would make an exemption for the life of the mother – after all, if she gets pregnant from rape, as god intended, and the pregnancy is about to kill her, that means god wants her and the embryo/fetus dead. So, why mess with god's gift of death?
Personally, I think Republicans have such a fetish with sperm/developing human cells/embryos/fetuses and such a hatred of and disdain for women (aka incubators to be impregnated by any and all means) that they can't and won't let go of their sick fantasies of a world where all women are controlled by men either personally or through legislation. It is up to us, sane women and men to vote these absurd individuals out of office.
Richard Mourdock has made a fool of not only himself but also of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former Vice President Dan Quayle and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It will be interesting to see how Romney flip-flops about his support for Mourdock.
'Absurd and sick' describes Richard Mourdock and his opinions perfectly. God forbid his wife, mother, daughters, nieces, aunts, grandmothers, neighbors or family friends ever needed his support in case of their own rape-induced pregnancy.
I really think it is important to understand what Richard Mourdock is saying. I am not one of those people who will try and twist his words to say he's advocating for rape, and as a Catholic I do not know how I would react if someone really close to me seriously considered an abortion. However, I do know that what troubles me about Mr. Mourdock's position is that he is basing his political beliefs on his religion and could potentially vote/pass laws that are based on said religion. What happened to the separation of church and state? We cannot and should not impose our religious views on others. I cannot force someone who does not believe in God to accept the baby a rapist implanted in her because it is the God-she-does-not-believe-in's will.
Only one comment...this guy is a whack job. If people will actually vote for people like this, the USA is truly becoming a sad place.
Walsh? Mourdock? Any more medieval morons running for Congress?
The man is obviously insane!
I say this as a male...typical male response.
On the plus side, he recognizes that rape pregnancies are scientifically possible! That's some progress, right?
Wow. A compasionate and expert opinion by a a man about something horrible that heppens to a woman and using God as the reason. I bet God is pretty tired of being a scapegoat for every small minded, chauvenistice, ignorant viewpoint that needs something to validate it. Abortion, Slavery, War, etc.
OK, fair enough. But if a birth initiated during that horrible act is God's will, how is it that a pregnancy ended in another "horrible act" is NOT God's will? Sorry, I'm against abortion (strongly against past the first trimester, moderately early on), but that argument doesn't hold water. The argument that everything that happens is God's will and that everything that is God's will must be accepted cannot be applied, by definition, to only some things.
If you bring me the argument of "the baby doesn't have anything to do with the act that led to his/her conception" we can have an argument. But not that nonsense you are bringing up.
Hours later and no comments yet? I guess everyone has been left speechless.
I am a Christian, deep of faith in Christ's love, but I can state without equivocation Richard Mourdock is not speaking for Christ or other than a hand full of wack-jobs. Comments like these disgust me, and reaffirm despite Obama's imperfections, he is the only candidate I can even conceive of voting for.
It is really difficult for me to understand how people can be so sure about something (for example many views grounded in some interpretation of some religion) just because some one else told them so (for example a priest)
If a rape victim contracts HIV/AIDS from the rapist is that also God's will? What did she ever do to deserve such a sentence from God? Sounds like another politician with no scruples about what he will say to get elected pushing off the blame onto God. How convenient!!! Everything is God's will – he has a permanent escape from responsibility now.
Boy, another brilliant remark. At this rate the Republicans will never take back the senate.
God wants women to get raped because that's part of his plan for humanity ???? Where does the Republican Party get these Christian Taliban candidates? They are a disgrace to true Christians.
Another republican making stupid remarks about rape... America, wake up and stop voting these idiots into positions dictating your lives which they have no business doing.
I think it's God's will that this guy is clueless.
It is irresponsible and purposefully misleading for this headline to be the top headline under 'Election Center'. All the other headilnes have to do with the presidential race, and it's my opinion that this is placed first with the expectation that many will assume, without reading it, that this is the position of Romney, the 'pro-life' candidate. Poorly done, CNN.
"I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I realized that life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen,"
"God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick,"
God lets raping happen. Another reasion that I'm glad I'm not a Christian. This guy is just like Christianity... full of inconsistencies, lies, contradictions, and naiveity.
Republicans, all. And Myth Romney changes his stance like he changes his clothes once again.
Unbelievable. And people support this man?