(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.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
"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.
Also on the CNN Political Ticker
– GOP Senate candidate accuses Dems of distorting his rape comments
– Clint Eastwood returns, stars in new super PAC ad
– Obama ad uses ghost of recount past
– Romney campaign and allies far outspending Democrats
– Trump's new charity drive
– Obama ready for 'all-nighter'
Ok, before you say something nasty... think on the big context... universe level... God's perspective...
Why does the GOP look more like the Taliban every day.
Considering how Jesus supposedly got started, it isn't surprising that some people would consider rape-pregnancy a "gift from God."
An abortion in 1974 saved my life and allowed me to have a family. Year later. Had I not had it, I would have died from blood poisioning I had developed – from the dead fetus in my body!!! So these ignorant politicians are TRYING to use God for everything they don't like. SHAME on ALL of you who falk for their ABUSE of MY religion. Just how ignortant is the rest of America who claims to be christian that they keep supporting hateful, angry white guys. Oh and I'm a white Catholic AND A REPUBLICAN who spports President Obama 100%. Mitt and the other GOP/Tea party PUPPETS will destroy America more than GW Bush did. WAKE UP. They ate LIARS AND CHEATS out for the almighty dollar. And it's yours they want more of.
This guys grand parents should have had an abortion.
" I realized that life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen"
"God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does"
Let me get this straight: God does not just "want" rape, he "intends" for it to happen.
"want" is just a predisposition towards rape, and "intend" is a predisposition plus a commitment.
Mourdock is a moron. You can do better, Indiana.
So rapists are doing God's will?
richard is a very sick man
How did we get to this point? How can women vote for these tools who would rather a woman die than the handfull of cells a rapist foists upon her? Hatred of women has reached an all-time high in the tea-party clan and in this nation.
Well I don't think rape is what God intended.
"God does not want rape" but he wants the life that results from rape he "wants". Talk about CHERRYPICKING!!!! Apparently he doesn't know what he wants and has no power to influence the outcome..........therefore...........he isn't all powerful and he isn't all knowing.......Oh WAIT!!! HE JUST ISN"T!!!!!!
How would Mourdock's views change if it were his wife who got pregnant by rape? Would he insist that she have the child and then would he claim it as his own, raise it, and send it to college? How about if she were raped by a minority person? I suspect that it would quickly become a "life of the mother" issue for him. And well it might be, because he'd probably kill his wife if she had a baby conceived in rape.
I want a right-to-lifer to explain to my why they don't consider a sperm and an egg to be alive, because if they did, they would have to admit that life begins BEFORE conception, and where would that lead them?
It is true, I was raped at 15 walking home from a friends home. It was a terrible situation and a short time after I found out I was pregnant. I do know that God intended me to become pregnant as my daughter gave me strength and to give birth to her and hold her took alot of the pain of the rape away. How could I make the rape worse by allowing it to make me a murderer of my own child that had no control over how it was concieved.
Romney distancing himself from one of the main platforms of the Republican party, will they call him a RINO?
why would anyone be surprised by this
Mourdock has enjoyed support from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who traveled to Indiana in August to campaign for the tea party-backed candidate alongside former Vice President Dan Quayle and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Romney has also appeared in a television ad for Mourdock.
Whether that is what he believes or not, his religious beliefs still have no place in his political policy making.
The sad thing is, this is just another extreme position from the GOP getting into the personal lives of women. I want a bipartisan congress working on the fiscal problems this country faces without worrying about personal beliefs of Americans. If this guy wants to be a preacher so be it, but not in the halls of congress.
Richard Mourdock – please shut up. You need a shrink, and a better preacher.
BE AFRAID PEOPLE BE VERY AFRAID .... this is the type of person you're electing into office.
What an idiot. Hopefully the voters will recognize his stupidity and vote against Mourdock.
Funny how Replugs want Government out of your personal lifes UNLESS it's about gay rights or abortions. I wonder if it was "God's will" for replugs to NOT have much of a brain.
Richard Mourdock, running for U.S. Senate in Indiana, said at a debate Tuesday that pregnancies resulting from rape are intended by God. Just another fine example of why Republicans are messing up this country, they are borderline sociopaths and should never run our country.
And people continue to elect these neanderthals. This is the kind of backward thinking that has this country so divided.