(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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Please quote the full remarks. Misleading article...
Go join the Taliban Richard Mourdock, you belong.
This is amazing. What a dummy. There are so many ways he could have explained his belief without insulting women who have been raped. What year is it again?
I had a child from rape. This child holds 3 patents. Works in engineering and developments. These patents were for Nasa! This world is better off for this child to be here yet I can't call this shot for other victims of rape. I feel I was lucky..just lucky. Would not impose this on other rape victims as I know I was "lucky". God loves us all and blesses us in different ways. We as humans should not claim we speak for God. Only he knows his ways so our first concern is to be respectful of others lifes and their choices.
and People THIS is the republican base. Indiana you are FOOLS if you vote for this kind
Mr. Mourdock...I would strongly suggest you think about hiring some body guards! I can not think of anything more hateful than your statement and I wouldn't worry about anyone twisting what you said...simply quoting you will be enough to describe the kind of person you really are. Unbelievable...simply unbelievable. How dare you call yourself a christian...let alone a human being!
Another republican making stupid remarks about rape...That's the 3rd one in less than 3 months. America, wake up and stop voting these idiots into positions dictating your lives which they have no business doing. These republicans always claim they by accident said it wrong... That's BS! How do you accidentally say it's Gods will?
Rape is a crime. But killing an unborn baby is a worse crime. Being hurt dosen't entilte the victim to victimize other innocent human being.
as a physician I have seen many wemen make the hard decision to terminate a pregnancy. NEVER did they make the decision lightly or without emotional difficulties!!! Having men talk about abortion, like some GOP candidates do, makes me remember how a colleague from a former eastern block country told me that the GOP's position on abortion is similar to communist/dictatorship positions. Who would have thought it? GOP position on abortion = communist/dictatorship opinion on abortion.
Sheesh. The GOP appears to be trying almost as hard to throw the 2012 election as they did in 2008 (though nothing can surpass the Senile McCain and Dingbat Palin ticket of 08...) And yet, the GOP can probably count on getting 47%
of the popular vote. If that doesn't paint a scary picture of this country's electorate, I don't know what does.
Wake up, America, and vote with your brains. If your IQ is under 3 digits, do the patriotic thing: dont' vote, don't reproduce, don't drive, and for the love of God and this country, quit watching Fox "News"
I'm appalled that a MAN who will never be pregnant from rape or incest has the arrogance to think he even has a right to an opinion on this issue.
No woman should be forced to bring the child of her rapist to term... period.
Wow. Just wow. Imagine if your sister were raped by, oh, I'll show my age and say Ted Bundy. And she conceived. And she was forced to carry that baby to term, and it grew up and started molesting animals and bullying the other kids right away. And Ted Bundy had visitation rights. And he did it to a few more women, and they all conceived, too. We would have a situation where some religious nuts in the Republican Party were able to enforce their idea of Christianity on us all, while they live in walled communities and send our jobs to China. Just, like, wow. A vote for Romney is a vote for overturning Roe v. Wade at the first opportunity.
I don't know about anyone else, but I firmly don't believe that any MAN has any right to say what is best for a WOMAN and HER BODY–let alone make any LAW regarding it!!
...and any woman who votes Republican is either an utter idiot, or under threat (and needs to contact the police to get away from whomever has that much power over her).
Why am I not surprised.
Where does the republican party find these nutcases? This is the most embarrassing field of candidates any party has put forth in the history of the United States!
They might as well say "Former Candidate."
Religious extremism, regardless of belief, is a danger to a civilized population. Do your part to keep these delusional nut jobs from gaining power.
Richard Mourdock is an embarrassment to Hoosier's everywhere and the great state of Indiana. In him, D. C. Stephenson lives again... "My worthy subjects, citizens of the Invisible Empire, Klansmen all, greetings..."
This guy doesn't even qualify to be an imbecile!
another idiot GOP sticking his foot in his mouth. How dumb can you be???
Its always only a matter of time