(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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It is too bad that men do not have babies. Men should keep their opinions to themselves regarding birth control, etc. The Republican party is full of wacky ideas. Pretty soon the Republican party will be the male party only.
What an ass. I'm ashamed to have to say I live in Indiana. But I'm NOT going to vote for him on the 6th.
This is one sick guy. He and Atkin should both be voted out of office. And Romney should have more to say than just he doesn't agree. He should pull his support of this neanderthal.
These guys dont get it ! Maybe they should be raped because it gods will
Yyyyeeeeuuuuuuccccchhhhhhh! If this guy were to use this topic for his foundation running pad, do ya think he would have the ability to "see" other issues – and clearly? I should think a scholarly candidate would be able to speak about this issue without his personal opinion opening up a can of worms no matter what his personal view may be! How do ya think this guy is gonna talk on the senate floor if he is elected? Geeewiz!! Yeah, probably like this post's language.
he is right, but most people can't get it. they will think the baby should be murdered
No god. Just people looking to control other people.
If it happened to his wife or daughter, it would not be God's will. These pandering politicians will say anything to try to keep their base. I have a great idea – call out their base on their hypocrisy.
Awesome! I no longer have to fight my overwhelming urge to rape little girls....it's just "God's" will!
These guys are seriously crazy!! I still don't understand the Republican misconception of rape & what it is. The saddest part is that these guys are viable candidates in their state elections. There are people who think these guys make perfect sense, and that's troubling.
she should not terminate the pregenancy, because god knows better and nobody knows what the baby will be in future.
Another Republican – open mouth and stick your foot in it.
Does anyone need anything else to know they CANNOT vote for anyone Republican?
They should have kept Lugar.
If the result of all crimes are God's will, then what is Satan's will? Is being robbed and left with nothing God's will? Certainly not! This guy's thinking is messed up and he needs to read the Bible and get divine guidance. Pregnancy from rape is a result of man's inhumanity to man, NOT God's wlll.
This is just another example of how the left distorts the truth for their ideology!! I commend the Senator for believing in the Sovereignty of God!!
This guy is sick. Condones crime as "God's will" – he needs to check w/ God on that.
Tell me this is a spoof., This guy is sick. Condones crime as "God's will" – he needs to check w/ God on that one.
How can people like this still exist in 2012? Our species is so disappointing.
A man with a look on his face very similar to the one on this Mourdock's face presided over the Salem witch trials, of this I am sure. How can this class of person get into the position of running for a national office? If him and Akin can get elected we would have at least 2% of the Senate espousing these beliefs. Christian Sharia here we come.
Mr.. Mourdock apparently isn't sufficiently trusting his God's will enough to leave the mother's living or dying up to it. He would allow human intervention in that case.
Sometimes the more people talk the stupider they sound. I have always felt this way about groups like the KKK, etc, and felt – let them talk all they want. People will then see how ridiculous they really are. Same with this issue. My uterus and the fruit of it is mine as it is of my own body. No GOP telling me it isn't mine is going to change my mind just because they say so or their own beleif system says so. If you want control of a uterus, grow your own female reproductive organs and stay outta mine thank you very much.
This is the problem with with these right wing radical wing nuts. Yet, people are willing to give them more power and a louder voice by voting for Mitt Romney. People like this guy is exactly why I can't stand the Republican party.