(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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What kind of idiocy is this? Mourdock, Akin, Walsh all must be drinking from the same kool aid pitcher. Ladies, if you let this kind of rhetoric and mind set pass without taking a stand, there is little hope that what gains you have made will remain. As for us guys, we'd better do our parts to see that cretins of this caliber go no farther than their own homes and thet we should pity their wives and families. In this day and age, such thinking is unimaginable!
This guy's arrogance is the only reason he isn't leading against his democrat opponent in Indiana. Mike Pence, who is ultra-conservative, will no doubt win the governorship, but I sincerely hope Mourdock isn't sent to D.C.
We are headed for Sharia law if people like this continue to be elected. I don't think it has anything to do with abortion either. They want things to go back to the olden days when men raped women with near impunity because women were afraid to come forward and even when they did, there was little likelihood the rapist would be convicted. Even when the girl was 12 she was grilled on the stand to make sure she wasn't a loose little girl. It was very similar to what we see today in backward countries run by religious zealots.
As soon as this man can get pregnant I'll respect his opinion. There is nothing ethical about this man. He's a control freak that entered politics to impose his views on detractors.
So if God does not want rape but allows pregnancies to occur as a consequence, why does he not just stop the rape form occurring in the first place? Simple solution I would have thought.
Romney said this guy should not run for reelection 2 months ago, why is cnn bring this back up after he already spoke out against him?
I think Tagg wants to take a swing at Mourdock now
I understand and accept that he is not saying that he believes rape is part of God's plan. But his line of thought is still worrisome and horrific. Yes, let that child that you're forced to carry and raise to adulthood be a reminder of that brutal, unspeakable crime that you suffered through and that probably scarred you for life, both physically and psychologically. It's "God's plan."
CNN.... unreal.... you post this first among the election section "For President" on the front page... is says " Candidate: Rape pregnancies God's will" making it look like its a presidential candidate "ROMNEY".... very shameful....
the tea party is the christian rights version of the radical muslims..no place for them in our society let alone being involved inour political processes
typical GOP talk..we are used to this
Ths is CRAP!!!!
Candidate: Rape pregnancies God's will
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I believe that it's God's will that he loses.
Oh, for crying out loud. The Republican party should officially change its name to the Rape-ublican party, since they like to talk about it so much. No one needs to twist Mr. Mourdock's words, they are "absurd and sick" all by themselves.
If you are a creationist, sure, God created life, but he created that life with the scientifically possible means of reproduction. What Richard Mourdock is suggesting is that conception is not scientifically possible on an ongoing basis beyond the creation account without God's help, which is ridiculous. I guess that also explains how Todd Akin thinks "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancies, because God either says "yes" or "no" to that process happening, despite the creationist God making creation capable of reproducing quite well without constant supervision and intervention. And to say that God, if you believe that there is a God, actually WILLS that rape/incest/war/famine/etc. happen, why would anyone want to worship such a terrible God? Wouldn't it be a better witness to say what is more theologically sound, that is that God, if you believe he exists, can take a bad situation WHICH HE DID NOT PREDESTINE TO HAPPEN and turn it into something good?
So let's see now, if the pregnancy is the will of God, then it follows naturally that the rape itself is the will of God. How many more idiocies will these GOP characters come up with to justify their stand on abortion? And to think that these are the guys who deem themselves qualified to run the country. All I can say is, God help us.
I spent 21 years of my life defending this country and protecting the rights we all enjoy. Including a woman’s right to choose, especially in the instance of rape, incest, or health of the mother. What has happened to the country I was willing to fight & die for? Where in the name of God have these extremists come from? I once considered myself a republican, I am no longer. The GOP has moved so far to the right that I am now a conservative democrat...
And before the right wing goes nut & say that I am not a Christian, here is something to think about. For those who are Christian, and believe in a woman’s right to choose, here are the tenants of the Presbyterian Church.
When an individual woman faces the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy, the issue is intensely personal, and may manifest itself in ways that do not reflect public rhetoric, or do not fit neatly into medical, legal, or policy guidelines. Humans are empowered by the spirit prayerfully to make significant moral choices, including the choice to continue or end a pregnancy. Human choices should not be made in a moral vacuum, but must be based on Scripture, faith, and Christian ethics. For any choice, we are accountable to God; however, even when we err, God offers to forgive us.
God gives us the right of choice, and it is against God’s word for us to take away choice. The man running for Senate in Indiana is not only wrong, but he is going against the word and freedoms granted by God.
this is the height of sickenss. There still one billion people who goes with out food every day. I'm pretty sure your god wants to save them first before you fight against abortions.
So god says "oh, i didnt want this rape to happen....but oh, what the heck....thats start a new life right here."
This is unbeleiveable. Republicans have no respect for women.
If god doesn't want anyone to be raped then why does he allow it to happen?
Why does half of America support people like this? This is why the rest of the world thinks Americans are idiots.
the rape is not God's will but the pregnancy is–OK now I onderstand–the man is just plain stupid
"...is absurd and sick," would pretty much describe Richard Mourdock. He sounds like somebody that should be living in the Middle East and pouring acid on little girls that go to school.
Hopefully he'll except it as God's will when he never wins another election.
no one should never go to jail for rape -its gods will