(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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THIS makes the front page of CNN??? An insignificant race in a small state, where the outcome of the election will have absolutley no impact on abortion in any way makes front page news?
If journalists had AN OUNCE of integrity anymore they would be screaming and hollering for more information about the obfuscating over Benghazi! This should be CRIMINAL, yet all they are doing to ducking and covering for this administration, and throwing out any story that makes the election more about small things.
Comments like this make you wonder is Santa's real . Or is religion bs how could this be God's will! Please don't vote for this guy.
American women. Time to wake up. You think that a ROMNEY administration will fight for your rights and freedoms?
Mammy thinks this'un be havin' a scroo loose in his head.
Talk about a bag of trash !
This is an example of the Republicans worst enemy in the public's and media's eye . . . . themselves!! They do more damage to themselves than the Democrats could ever do! Just a STUPID statement!
Richard Mourdock has missed the point. Women have a right to choose whether or not to have a baby no matter how the baby was conceived. I don't know why he would think anyone would be interested in his religiious views. We've witnessed the demise of so many "religious" men that he would be smart to keep his views to himself.
Another nutcase from the extreme right, inspired by his blind faith. Mourdock and Bachmann would make a lovely couple.
Totally agree. Not to minimize the trauma of rape or carrying the resulting child to term, it's not the child's fault what happened. The courage and strength of conviction in a higher power for a woman to do this is nearly qualification for saintlhood. There are so many couples who desparately want to adopt, who would be overjoyed to receive such a gift.
When the Sky Fairy goes wrong.
Here is the deal Mr. Mourdock. You will be personally and financially responsible for both the woman who was tortured and the child you forced her to have.
Once you claim that responsibility, you might have a right to tell a woman what to do with her body. Otherwise, shut up.
Hahaha. This guy is a putts. There is no god you idiots.
I APPLAUD YOUR STANCE MR. MOURDOCK!! Life is ALWAYS a gift from GOD. GOD definately doe not want rape.. YET he is the one who creates life and every life has a purpose. As a Catholic my view is exactly the same.
If a rape pregnancy is "God's Will" I want nothing to do with God's love. It's evil.
What an idiot.
Anyone who claims to know the will of God is arrogant.
if god wanted the pregnancy from the rape which means that god wanted the rape to happen,then,why punish the rapist???? and this guy is running for the senate??
Death is also given to us by your imaginary God, maybe he will give you yours soon. May yours be long and painful
Another example of religious extreme thinking taking hold in our highest govt positions.....I don't see much difference from these kinds of statements than those we complain about from other ethnic/religious faiths. Maybe we are more alike than we think.
Absurd and sick to misconstrue his words? His position is absurd and sick.
Get rid of these nut jobs Mourdock and Akin.
One says you can't get pregnant from rape, and the other says it's God's will when you get pregnant from rape.
Can't even get their psychoses straight.
Another GOP moron.
Sorry Senator but unless the person is holding a huge sign that says come and rape me, the rape was against their will. A pregnancy from that rape adds to that shame, and is a reminder of what happened. The woman did not ask to be raped. Rape is an extremely violent act against someone. If a pregnancy is the result of a rape. The woman should have the right to end the pregnancy. Period. No questions asked.
Abortions are birth control in a sense. They end a pregnancy. I do not believe that abortions should be what people look to towards birth control. There other means of birth control. People make mistakes, fine. You can have an oppse we are pregnant. After the 4th, 5th, 6th+ abortion It is time to actually use some form of birth control other then abortion. There are cases where abortions are to be used no questions asked though. Rape is one of them. Period. If the health of the mother is in question is another. If someone wants to keep on playing and winds up pregnant, not so much.
I get what he was trying to say, but how in the world do you fail to see how such a statement will be interpreted? This is exactly why I think faith and politics should not mix. Not only do you make yourself look bad, but you make your faith look bad as well.