October 24th, 2012
01:15 PM ET
2 years ago

GOP Senate candidate accuses Dems of distorting his rape comments

(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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Filed under: Indiana • Richard Mourdock • Senate
soundoff (2,701 Responses)
  1. Larry

    wow, really. and people are actually voting for these extremists? True republicans should be ashamed of these people theyre not republicans theyre tea party extremists

    October 24, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  2. Edna

    We are not God and have no right to judge. If a women wants to do an abortion raped or not. It's her choice no one else's. Don't use God for your own agenda. It is a personal decision between her and God. Not the governments business. Stay out of our business and do what is needed in this country fixing the economy. Enough with this!

    October 24, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  3. tribbles

    The far right loves to insert 'God intended' for there pathetic views and backward thinking logic. Some how he thinks his words will be twisted, no need to twist this 'my way or the highway thinking'...This is 2012, not 1812...He is aware that women are allowed to vote, isn't he? This is the best the right has to offer? Even four differment mitt couldn't jump on board...lol

    October 24, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  4. Periksen

    This oughta help the GOP gain some ground !! NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  5. patw

    What's the problem?

    October 24, 2012 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  6. Larry

    OMG What will they say next? This is stunning!

    October 24, 2012 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  7. Jeff Cleveland

    He did not say the pregnancies from rape was God's will, that just follows what he ACTUALLY said. He actually unbelievably said the RAPE ITSELF is God's will.

    October 24, 2012 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  8. PM

    How would the senator feel if it was his daughter, mother, sister or other blood relative that was raped and then ask to carry the child of the rapist for 9 months then to be responsible for the child for years after. Being raped and then bearing a child by the rapist is what the Senator is suggesting. What would be his opinion if someone he loved was forced to bear a child of his relative's rapist.

    October 24, 2012 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  9. Josh

    The republicans have moved so far to the right and so many of them reveal themselves about the ridiculous beliefs they hold ...which in a more normal era would be immediate grounds for being disqualified from politics....but in our Dr Stranglove world of the republicans we all have become desensitized to their insanity and so they survive. They always say after the fact 'oops I told the truth but this is what I really meant ' wink wink as they throw the dog meat to their base. I never saw a party who is so paranoid about sharia law yet mimics it with their right wing wacko personal knowledge about god' s wishes and exactly how we can be oppressed by their beliefs.

    October 24, 2012 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  10. NYVeteran

    Its always interesting when the truth slips out during these carefully choreographed campaigns. Watch Faux News, and GOP commentaotrs out on the daily news show circuits. The GOP is all about scared, angry white males maintaining control over politics, religion and your social lives. Anyone who votes for a GOP candidate is voting for rape an a legitimate form of conception. Does the father have parental rights too? Dont be fooled by the Romnesiac shift to the center. It iwll be burkhas for women, chains for minorities and more for the haves and less for the have nots. Are you that oblivious?

    October 24, 2012 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  11. MB

    Ahhhhh... CNN. You're making my nose bleed with your theologically braindead articles.
    The Sovreign will of God does not equal God's pleasure in your misery.

    This scenario is called:" The possibility of beauty in tragedy."

    This only becomes a problem, if you equate the Baby with the Rapist. That might be a natural reaction by the victim, but it's not the logical conclusion.
    By choosing to abort the child conceived in rape, you are placing the guilt of the rapist on the Child by proxy.
    I can understand why the reaction is thus, but I would appeal to the mother regardless.
    Today she might feel violated and disgusted to have her rapist's child growing inside her. In five years, if the wounds begin heal, she might be thankful that she chose mercy, when she received none. That child is not guilty by proxy and offering th child up for adoption might bless another couple and grant life to a creature conceived in tragedy.

    October 24, 2012 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Perhaps it is god's will for him to lose the election.

    October 24, 2012 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  13. Gerald

    He said God doesn't want rape but yet it is God's will, so to me then God wanted that rape to happen. How can anyone vote for a Republican when all they want is to put us back in the dark ages.

    October 24, 2012 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  14. Sue

    What's really disgusting is romneys little buddy ryan is out campaigning for this Neanderthal, saying 'we need people like you in the Senate'. And even though romneys handlers are saying that romney doesn't agree, you know that he and other republicans feel the same but are advised to keep those opinions quiet. Keep these holier-than-thou ego trippera out of office.

    October 24, 2012 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  15. Larry

    In regard to the Walsh statement about looking unreasonable, They don't need anyone to make them look unreasonable. They simply ARE unreasonable., or insane!

    October 24, 2012 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  16. Tony Heron

    This man has been brainwashed by his religion ...............

    October 24, 2012 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  17. MB

    Sigh... CNN. You're making my nose bleed with your theologically b r a i n d e a d articles.
    The Sovreign will of God does not equal God's pleasure in your misery.

    This scenario is called:" The possibility of beauty in tragedy."

    This only becomes a problem, if you equate the Baby with the R a p i s t. That might be a natural reaction by the victim, but it's not the logical conclusion.
    By choosing to abort the child conceived in r a p e, you are placing the guilt of the r a p i s t on the Child by proxy.
    I can understand why the reaction is thus, but I would appeal to the mother regardless.
    Today she might feel violated and disgusted to have her r a p i s t ' s child growing inside her. In five years, if the wounds begin heal, she might be thankful that she chose mercy, when she received none. That child is not guilty by proxy and offering th child up for adoption might bless another couple and grant life to a creature conceived in tragedy

    October 24, 2012 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  18. Andrew

    I glad CNN front pages these messages from people who are running for office. Its just letting us know who NOT to vote for. Ever.

    October 24, 2012 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  19. Dumbpolitics

    Is there a GOP time machine that keeps sending these guys from the 14th century. They should have left this society when the Dodo bird went extinct.

    October 24, 2012 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  20. MB

    Sigh... CNN. You're making my nose bleed with your theologically b r a i n d e a d articles.
    The Sovreign will of God does not equal God's pleasure in your misery.

    This scenario is called:" The possibility of beauty in tragedy."

    This only becomes a problem, if you equate the Baby with the R a p i s t. That might be a natural reaction by the victim, but it's not the logical conclusion.
    By choosing to a b o r t the child conceived in r a p e, you are placing the guilt of the r a p i s t on the Child by proxy.
    I can understand why the reaction is thus, but I would appeal to the mother regardless.
    Today she might feel violated and disgusted to have her r a p i s t ' s child growing inside her. In five years, if the wounds begin heal, she might be thankful that she chose mercy, when she received none. That child is not guilty by proxy and offering the child up for adoption might bless another couple and grant life to a creature conceived in tragedy

    October 24, 2012 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  21. john Mcdonna

    Wow. How can you take someone like that seriously.....better yet how can you let a religious extremist like this get into public office.

    October 24, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  22. Chris

    All the more reason to stay as far away from these folks as possible.

    October 24, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  23. MB

    Why bother posting? Everything slightly "right" gets moderated.

    October 24, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  24. Al

    I am pretty much in disagreement here, Funny than that, is watching CNN self-destruct for their Bias political agenda. No wonder you are second to FOX News! I guess if fox had an agenda they hide it better report on both ups and downs for both sides. CNN has taken this to a personal agenda party attached for their network and lost their first duty to the public. It is so funny that you have done nothing but push people like me away from the extreme left right into the Romney camp. Maybe you are for Romney and this is your way to sway, if so, it was successful.

    October 24, 2012 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  25. Texan

    Strange people running for leadership....

    October 24, 2012 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
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