(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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How can you say something horrible like this, and then when called out on it, say that it's not at all what you said and that your words are being twisted? How come all of the pro-rape candidates always cite God, and are always Republican?
The controversy pretty much boils down to his use of the pronoun 'it' in the last sentence of his debate remark, and the negative spin people have put on his view as a result of their interpretations. he should have phrased his sentence structure to point "it" back to "life," not "rape." And actually, I respect his boldness for putting forth his opinion toward his anti-abortion stance. Rape is a terrible thing, and anyone who says otherwise is severely misguided, and a child born of rape may serve as a reminder of that event, but I believe that all life is sacred, and so having an abortion following rape is like giving an alcoholic opium to treat his alcoholism. There is a huge psychological aspect to abortion that gets overlooked, when the would-be mother sees the body of her would-be child, there is an effect.
Wow. I dio ts abound on the right.
The USA is a secular country. This is surly not about abortion, its about someones faith influencing their law making abilities. He may feel 'its a gift from God' but to those who don't believe its a horrifying line of 'Logic'
Okay. It was legitimate a few weeks back. Now it has matured to become god blessed. Way to go GOP
So, God does not intend rape to happen, but God does intend it if a child is conceived from rape. He's either in control or he is not. I personally think God wills a person to be raped if it happens. He works in mysterious ways after all.
A woman has the right to abortion. I would rather see that than have them ABUSE or KILL CHILD.
I didn't even have to read the article to know that this guy was from the GOP.
what a BS!!
Here in Indiana we see a lot more of Mourdock then the rest of the country, I suppose. It's probably not going to be a surprise but I can tell you now that everytime he opens his mouth, stupid falls out.
Nothing unusual about GOP's stand on relegated suffering to make a bureaucrat fell better about themselves. Amazing the stupidity of an individual blaming GOD for issues that man has no business involving themselves with. I guess Mourdock and Romney will be walking on water ( hand in hand with a a little smooch in between blessings- it is legal to do so just ask any theologian/politician) blessing all with their vast knowledge of all things. Gee thanks for the life lesson – Life choice is for those that give it. A women's body does not belong to government and has no business being discussed as a political issue. The Mourdock/Romney ideology is criminal.
This man is obviously screwed-up in his head. If some man raped him he would think twice about his weird views on rape.
Well, this just confirms it. Being in the GOP is a litmus test for insanity.
I think he just lost the race for senate
Really?! And does he think that modern medicine is the will of God?!! Seriously, God has been used by a lot of people through history to give authority to their own agendas and I for one believe that there will be a reckoning!!
Keep these ijuts from getting elected. The government has enough ijuts as it is. This is unbelievable.
For the love of your party... this might be a good time to keep some things to yourself,
especially this close to the election.
There is very little to be said for the religious fools that will make any difference. Suffice it to say, anyone that would even suggest that "God" should be a factor in a decision to abort an unwanted pregnancy due to rape is NOT fit for Public Office.
These 3 men, backed by the tea partiers, are hurting religion and hurting the Republican party, and hurting women too. They are so disgusting, I couldn't vote for them if they were the last candidates on earth. They are also a good example how religion has taken over the Party of Lincoln.
Why on earth do these men believe they have such authority? Who made them God's spokesmen? Why do they think they are the ones who should be deciding what is and is not a gift from God when it comes to women's bodies, the victimization of women through rape, or medical conditions that impact women's bodies? And that Joe Walsh...I've never heard anyone speak so publicly on a topic about which he knows so little. Tell the pregnant woman who's also battling cancer that she's just using her illness as an "anti-life" excuse when she's listening to her doctor's advice on whether she should continue either her pregnancy or her chemo. Again, who is he to decide? And by the way, there has never been a woman who has happily walked into a procedure room and, with a smile on her face, opted for an abortion.
Hey I totally agree. If the christian god existed, violent rape would be something he intended, wanted, and was pleased by.
Really how many of these nutcases does the GOP have?????????????