(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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DAMN SCARY...And some want a Republican in the White House...?
Wow. Just wow.
I guess we will see if the citizens agree with this "interesting" viewpoint. This election will tell us a lot about Indiana.
It comes across to me that by trying to go against a womans choice over her own body is the politicians way of trying to play god. Who are you to say what any woman whether she can gone through a rape or not does not have the right to choose what should happen. I am pro-choice for any woman even though I do not believe in abortion myself. If you are saying that god is against abortion then those who commit it will be punished by their own god. Obviously being of someone who is religious don't you feel that you are going to be punished for trying to play god? Isn't it about free will? Isn't that what god created man for? So that they have the choice between good and evil? Everyone who is against freedom of choices in Gods name is totally contradicting themselves.
You are delusional. Times 12
Let people like this lead a congregation, but dont let them lead a nation.
Unfit to lead.
Hopefully, he will change his tune after God decides he will lose the election...
"A senior GOP strategist, however, said Mourdock may not face as much pushback from Republican leaders as Akin experienced, given the limited time remaining before Election Day and the importance for the GOP to win the Indiana seat"
Both the GOP and Dems are guilty of this sort of idiocy. Winning is all that matters. We should collectively be ashamed that we allow this to be the deciding factor.
Where is the "None of the Above" choice on the ballot?
Seriously?!?!? What would his stance be if it happened to his daughter? yeah, stoopid republicans...
Say Goodbye to Safe and legal abortions if the GOP takes over, Say Hello to the White Man's world of the 1950's.
If babies like this are a gift from G-d, how about taking care of them after they're born, noone seems to care about unwanted children once they hit the ground. They MUST be born, but they apparently do not need to be taken care of after that.
Wow, that's an awfully low opinion of God. If God does exist, I'm sure he doesn't appreciate being called a monster, Richard.
What a deluded and disgusting person.
Someone should Rape this guy in the Ass with no lube. Then explain it to him how he should not cry and that god intended for this to happen.
So god, who is all-powerful, doesn't like rape but allows it to happen – often. He even allows or encourages some of these rapes to end with the death of a victim. If the woman dies, he puts the icing on the ordeal by making the victim pregnant, and makes her keep the baby, even though man has free will.
Anyone who believes in this pure nonsense deserves michele bachmann, sarah palin, and all of the rest of the bible thumpers.
I would like to see the Republicans take the Senate, but not with fools like this.
This man is insane. As a Christian woman, I love how he assumes he knows God's Will and seemingly holds God in the palm of his hand instead of the other way around.
We have a different understanding of God, Mr. Mourdock. Also, you are free to believe as you do, but to push to legislate your morality is wrong, sir. We live in America and I thank God for that.
I believe that a woman must have a right to abortion regardless of how she got pregnant. After all she is the one who has to bear the child for 9 months in her body. For 9 months it is a part of her body and she should have the freedom to decide over it.
I dont really care if his comments "Wont be fatal" to his race. They should be. Does he have any idea of the trauma having a baby you dont want, then having to either live with it or live with giving it up leaves? There is no win situation with a rape pregnancy. They baby will either be there forever as a reminder of the incident, or will be somewhere else with the mother always wondering if they did the right thing. OK, so abortion doesnt give a better solution, but its a different one and the woman should be allowed to choose.
We that known gods do not kill unborn baby
I think to involve God into something as brutal as rape.. is inconceivable. Anyone with 9th Grade Anatomy knows how a pregnancy occurs. A pregnancy conceived through rape is NOT a divine occurrence To even suggest that it is makes me believe the man is less than sympathetic to the victim of said rape and it also makes be believe the man is a fool.
I'm astounded at the ignorance and idiocy of this guy.
This guy needs to go to a country where women don't have any rights. He didn"t even take those of us who have neen raped into consideration. I do not like being labeled as a victim but rather a survivor since most rapes are extremely violent. And yes my near death experience produced a baby that after months of consideration i decided to keep him & raise him knowing i had a great support group to help me. My baby boy is now 19 & is gifted both academically & athletically.
So they are saying that the amount they disagree and "pushback" this neanderthal gets from the GOP s directly related to how close it is to the election? Nice. That is a very clear way to let people know how strongly they hold their convictions when it comes to the best interests of women.