(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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kinda scary what republicans think, ain't it?
Funny how it's mostly men who make such statements.
Ok, that's enough of the GOP...it's obvious they are totally against women's rights and healthcare! Where DO these madmen come from? Why does the GOP support this insanity? I'm really tired of all the pretend Christians...the GOP has hijacked religion!
Really, what more can be said about the far right in this country? They are such a pitiful, ignorant, uneducated collection of morons that words can't accurately describe it. It's best to let their own words do that...
Romney is SUPPOSED to be the leader of the GOP right now yet he cops out by merely saying it's not his views? Of COURSE it's his views or else he would put pressure on those goofballs like Akin and Walsh. Either that or Romney is NOT any kind of a leader.
What? Am I the only one to sound off? It is not God's will to conceive a child out of rape. That is the Devil's will. Whomever believes rape is God's will is the devil himself.
If I were a woman, having these men in the Senate would scare the hell out of me.
Wow these republicans are getting scarier by the minute. It seems it's a trend all over the world now, all the fanatics are trying to take over, I guess they learned from the best middle east that it is a lot easier to controll the masses with religion
j If that is god's will, so is me punching you in the throat until your change your idiotic backwards and absolutely outdated view on reality....
Congratulations to Joe Donnelly for being elected to the U.S. Senate on November 6th. Mourdock has already lost. It is absolute not true that pregnancy from rape is God's will.
Brainwashed religious fanatics make me sick
If they have at least two adopted children from unwanted mothers. support welfare for unwanted children. then i will vote for you.
It is also God's will that this man will not be elected.
Seriously? This is why religion has no part in politics. Not everyone believes in your religion, Mr Mourdock. Why should a woman be forced to carry her rapists child? Because you "think" that that child is god's will? How do you know it's god's will? DO you know the heart or mind of god? NO...no one know's the heart of mind of god. What happens to women and families that do not believe in your god? Do they have to carry a child to term because you say so? Please keep your religion out of my goverment...tyvm.
These pro-life candidates views on rape are warped and against all women. If they want to hold these beliefs let them have them against their ownprivate family members, not as legislators for the entire class of women. I'm offended that they think their own view is the only view. Individual women should have the right to decide what is best for their bodies and lives. As these candidates have opined about medicine, I'd like to know where they got their medical degrees. There are many disorders that a woman can have where her life can be endangered by being pregnant, LIKE HAVING CANCER or uncontrollable DIABETES or HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE and other rare disorders. Anyone voting for these people does a diservice to their female family members if they are raped or have a life threatening health problem. Think before you vote, and if you would like to be at the mercy of their policies.
Aaaaaand this is why I left the country. People who say things like this shouldn't be anywhere close to being in office. It's terrifying.
I am calling on all Americans that value reason and would like to see this country continuing to move into the future, rather than regress into an age of darkness and fanaticism, to call on Mr. Murdock to not only drop out of a race, or any kind of political aspirations, but also to formally apologize for his ignorant statement to all the rape victims out there. Shame on you, Mr. Murdock.
I hope you loose and rot in hell !!!
Republicans can really turn a phrase when it comes to abortion talk – opponents of life – shouldn't that apply to someone who is pro war? I don't care how earnestly you believe, no human knows God's will. Any claim to the contrary should keep one out of politics. Live your beliefs, teach your beliefs, preach your beliefs... DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT attempt to legislate them. That is way above your pay grade.
Then if they get aborted, that's also God's will.
i love the logic. the cause wasnt god's will, only the effect was.
He seems to forget that it CAN'T be a gift from God because there IS no God.
You are absurd and sick, Mr. Mourdock.