(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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Wow. bust out your thank you notes, people! Rape, murder, incest, disease: all gifts from above! What an absolute idiot.
If this guy and Teaparty guys like him could be swallow by the earth, God would be smiling so greatly!
I bet if he was raped he would not call it an act of God.
I understand what he saying totally. Life is of God. He wasn't advocating rape by any means. Rape is a total violation, but what the devil meant got evil God will turn it around for good.
In a nutshell – this is why much of the civilized world looks at the US as an insane asylum
I think God DOES want rape. There are several examples in the bible of rape being sanctioned, even encouraged, by god.
These are the goofs that run our government, and our lives. Elect Mourdock and the nex thing he will tell you is that women should stay at home raising kids, and should not be allowed to vote.
I think god DOES like rape. There are several examples in the bible where god condones, or even encourages, it!
You know who else fathered babies by impregnating a woman against her will? That's right you guess it, God. If Jesus can be a rape baby and be the savior of mankind then its good enough for your rape baby as well. Praise the Lord...of raping
You've got to be kidding me. Do Republicans even want Mitt Romney to win?
awsome! god makes men rape women, it is his will!
yet another example of how religion is the true evil.
Maybe God wants to be good but sometimes He just can't help but intend that some women must get raped. It's complicated and not for us to judge His mysterious ways.
This is a slap in womens faces then they wonder why weman are voting for the dems
These people are insane.
It is very true that not everything that happens is according to God's will. In this, Mr. Donnelly is undoubtedly correct. Mr. Murdocks view reflects an incorrect view of Christianity that among other things, states that God is in control of the finest detail of everything. Therefore, anything: fires, disasters, tornados, rape, are intended by God. This is not so. An excellent explanation of this can be found in the writings of Reverend Gregory Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN. Read for example his "satan and the Problem of Evil".
Turning to the political side of this, I hope that this does not flip another seat from Republican to Democrat. What is going to happen to the pro life cause when five or so senate votes for supreme court judges who should have been republican are now democrat? These seats are of course in Delaware, Nevada, Colorado, and now maybe Missouri and Indiana.
Another person Romney supported. How could any woman vote for this man? Oh sorry, Romney just changed his mind again (and again, and again, and again, and...). He doesn't support him now. This should become an election issue and reminder to women (and men) that Romney and his party are too far to the right no matter how much Romney wants to do anything to get elected.
If this doesn't scare you to death, nothing ever will.This is what religion has done to our planet, its a CANCER
What? I just don't even...
I would actually want to hear the debate between Akin and this m0r0n about pregnancies from rape.
Only from the mouth of a man. Do not vote for any of these people; they are the American Taliban.
I'm outdone. Romney's own party is setting him up.
Are you kidding me?
You condemn the Middle East in regards to women rights? Look at the mirror and see a reflection of a caveman.
First of all, a child is basically a combination of the mother and the father regardless of who is the father and who is the mother whether married or not, alcoholics or not. Additionally, the parents can be a one-night stand, rich, poor, filthy, clean, promiscuous, pretty, ugly, short or tall. Regardless of the situation of the father or the mother it should be fair not to punish with a capitol punishment the child for any character of the father and mother that society deem unfavorable. Therefore, cautions should be taken by every woman to avoid situations that has a potential for rape. However, if the crime of rape occurs, the criminal should be punished severely, but not to give the capital sentence on the innocent child regardless of anything other human beings have done. No innocent human should be punished by a capital punishment for some else criminal activities. The child especially first 9 months of life are the most innocent stage of life in every human being. Use your mind and not what the TV and so-called "scientists or judges" permits or encourages you or manipulate you to commit a capital punishment on an innocent human being.
This is absolutely absured that you guys are trying to make an issue out of this. It is clear that there is no way he meant that God wants or wills for rape to happen. He meant what he said he meant, that God creates life and that we should cherish that, regardless of HOW it happens. I am so sick and tired of people trying to portray every Republican who mentions rape and abortion in the same sentence as some sort of woman hater.