October 24th, 2012
01:15 PM ET
1 year 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 (2,702 Responses)
  1. Jon

    The ultra-conservative candidates are seriously whacked. If the Republican party wants to survive, they are going to have to dispatch these crazy people as quickly as possible.

    SOMEHOW, we are "absurd and sick" for quoting this nutter word-for-word, but he thinks its perfectly rational to think that "God's will" is responsible for the baby being conceived, but God is not responsible for HOW the baby was conceived.

    Yeah....

    Sad thing is: In a state like Indiana, he's likely to win the election anyhow.

    October 23, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  2. SokrMom

    Why can't GOP politicians just keep their policies, and their ultrasound probes, and their philosophical musings, away from MY body!!

    October 23, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  3. BigTBone

    Better close these comments soon. This could get out of hand.

    I can't put this into words.

    October 23, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  4. Grumpymedic

    Really? What a cr0nk. So what he's really saying is God is okay with rape. Is that really what Jesus would put up with? Which is it, you religious nut cases? If you're going to say a bad thing like rape that happens to a woman is " God's will", you had better be prepared to admit Hitler and Dahmer were also God's will. You don't get to pick and choose, because bad things DO happen to good people, which has always been the hallmark of your "it's God's will" and "he's testing us" statements.

    Ahhhh....religion. So peaceful and loving. And hypocritical.

    October 23, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  5. Craig

    Men have been cloaking their hate for women in religion for centuries and it's time for it to end. Religion has no place in politics. Forcing one's beliefs on an entire country isn't democracy.

    October 23, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  6. CTYank

    Just a "logical" extension of the "keep 'em barefoot and pregnant" southern thing. How sad and stupid!

    October 23, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    These religious nut jobs that are running for office need to learn to shut their mouths. America doesn't want to know that they don't understand science or decency.

    October 23, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  8. Steve S

    Between Mourdock and Akin, the GOP sure can pick 'em.

    October 23, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. Marshall

    An additional comment: This Republican running for senate in Indiana who says that "pregnancies resulting from rape are intended by God" has Mitt Romney's support! Someone needs to realize that these right wing nuts are scary, really scary! Are any of you women out there in America listening?

    October 23, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  10. Stalker

    Well that is a HUGE load off my mind. Now when I put a knife to a young girls throat and violate her I can be proud that I am an agent of the lord. She can praise the lord for the gift I give her. I am definitely voting republican from now on.

    October 23, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  11. kt

    government officials who legislate their religious beliefs should be evaluated under the strictest form of sharia law.

    October 23, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  12. rh

    He intended that you would run your mouth in such a way that you alienated 99.9% of the US population.

    Think about this Chuckles – if you think that the pregnancy was God's will, isn't the abortion God's will too, if He lets it happen?

    October 23, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  13. mjcharron

    Just another backwards idea from a backwards republican politician. Take a hike and go to a country where they do not even have abortion technology.

    October 23, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  14. repulsed

    This is an insult and these men have no right making these judgement, especially by invoking the presence of God in such a horrible acts – it is a disgrace to this country that these people have made it this far in our election process.

    October 23, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  15. Keith

    These republicans who think this way make me sick. They are the same people who will cut off any funding for social programs that help single mothers, or disadvantaged children, don't think twice about going to war and killing plenty of innocent children and civilians. These people are as backward thinking as al-Qaeda.

    October 23, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  16. Charly (Florida)

    GOPers are not letting go on the rape issue. Finally we should label them as rapists.

    October 23, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  17. Barry

    If the Democrats don't manage to add to their Senate majority with all the help they're getting from the Republican lunatic fringe, then something is very wrong.

    October 23, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  18. anon

    Why are stupid people like this still allowed to exist

    October 23, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  19. Bruce

    Mourdock only said out loud what many Tea Partiers (and members of the new Republican Party) believe deep down. We must accept that the modern Republican Party has been taken over by the crazies. There is no doubt that given power, this is exactly the way they would govern.

    October 23, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  20. Sodapophead

    I truly hate these jerks, men have no rights to controlling a woman's body. Why are the women of this country not ripping these idiots apart.

    October 23, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  21. Jim McTeigue

    So, if a pregnancy happens, it's God's will, because it happened... but if a rape happens, it's not God's will, despite the fact that it happened?

    October 23, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  22. JPX

    Wow! There's nothing scarier than absolute ignorance coupled with religious nonsense. It amazes me that a grown man justifies rape by stating that an imaginary man in the sky condones it. It's 2012' how is it that so many simpletons still embrace Bronza Age thinking?

    October 23, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  23. wonderstruck

    My jaw is on the floor!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 23, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  24. tigerakabj

    And Romney just cut an ad for this guy.

    Folks, this is the GOP of 2012. A pro-rape party that has absolutely no regard for women.

    Romney can say what he wants but in an parallel universe where he did win he would sign every bill Mourdock and Bachmann sent him, signed, sealed, and delivered.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 23, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  25. DaveC

    Where in God's name do we get these dimwits? How does this guy suppose to know what God thinks and wants? Does he have a direct phone line in his home to Heaven? This guy is a living example of the the phrase: Instead of being born again, why don't you just grow up!

    If the people of Indiana vote this clown into office they are as loony as if the people of Missouri vote Akin into office. Both guys are just plain sick in the head.

    October 23, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
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