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. Argh

    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.

    October 24, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Feed Your Head

    Being a Conservative Republican is a disease that can be treated.
    Seek help before you infest the rest of us.

    October 24, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  3. sodesoky

    What the heck is wrong with these people? Rape is perpetrated by criminals. If God wanted that baby to be born that much, He'd have arranged another immaculate conception. Or at least a loving relationship, not someone's dad forcing them into it. Gah.

    October 24, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  4. zipurlip

    This guy must have been in the same cave as Akin growing up. Either that or the stu_pidity virus is spreading between states.

    October 24, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  5. Vgott

    Did the candidate speak to God that God does not want the rape but wants the kid?
    Well. . Then someone does not want to rob the bank but want to keep the money. So, you only punish the act of robbery but let him/her keep the money..because God wanted the money to be given out.

    October 24, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. Marco Hernandez

    If all the events that take place are the will of God, then Pregnancy rape is no more the will of God than the mother not wanting to have a baby.

    October 24, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  7. joe jones

    Absurd logic. The fantasy sky God is supposed to be omniscient and omnipotent so by definition everything that happens would be Its will. Every tsunami, earthquake, birth defect, serial murder, black plague, car accident etc. This means that if a woman has an abortion it's God's will because it happened.

    So essentially, saying it's God's will answers nothing–except to put this person in a category also inhabited by extremist Muslims.

    October 24, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  8. really

    Well I believe that rape induced babies are a gift from Zeus.

    Does that sound insane to you? It should. That's how the 'God's will' argument sounds to many of the rest of us.

    October 24, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  9. Hello World

    You do realize that the term Atheist was created by Romans to make fun of Christians for believing in a single god. Since the beginning of our reordered history 6000 years ago man has invented over 2600 gods. But because you believe in one of them, that is the right god, and you should rule everyone by your view of that god.

    If you're too simple minded to see that religion is a fallacy, I feel sorry for you and every aspect of your life. Please keep these religious nuts out of politics. I'm tired of living in a society with this kind of ancient thought process. Please join us in the 21st century really soon.

    October 24, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  10. Ted

    He is an idiot same as anyone who agrees with him

    October 24, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  11. Puddin

    Romney, Quayle, McConnell and Cornyn support this guy, Mourdock...sounds about right. Women of Indiana, as you can see, you are not important to the Republican party. Go out and vote in droves against them.

    October 24, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  12. 4Wonderlnd

    Republicans hidden agenda keeps coming out when candidates get excited and forget to hide their real platform. Mitt just endorsed this man. Women in this country who continue to vote for Republicans need to put on their Burkas so real women know the traitors when we meet them.
    These men are no better than the radical Muslims who believe in "honor" killings when a woman doesn’t obey them. Disgusting and very dangerous to women and freedom.

    October 24, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Who Are These Guys?

    So, if god wants that woman pregnant, it logically follows that the rapist is just doing god's work. The Taliban of the Midwest! How many more of these creeps are going to climb out from under their rocks in the next two weeks?

    October 24, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  14. Dana

    More religious nonsense. It's time to vote Libertarian.

    October 24, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Why do politicians think they are doctors? NO ADVANCEMENT in medicine can stop HYPEREMESIS, which by the way is considered a high risk pregnancy where's the mother vomits violently 15-20 times a day. I know.... I come very close to death EVERYTIME I AM PREGNANT! You have to go to th hospital 2-3 times weekly to get fluids or you WILL DIE! There IS NO CURE for PREECLAMPSIA OR ECLAMPSIA which is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY! The only way to stop it is to deliver the child! I also experience this as well. So PLEASESTOP PLAYING DR. IF YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHERE TO EVEN BEGIN, OU WENT TO LAW SCHOOL, NOT MED SCHOOL!

    October 24, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  16. Evan

    The Republicans are in constant war against women. This guys live in the past, they think its still ok to say this ludicrous things

    October 24, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  17. SuchALady

    Why do politicians think they are doctors? NO ADVANCEMENT in medicine can stop HYPEREMESIS, which by the way is considered a high risk pregnancy where's the mother vomits violently 15-20 times a day. I know.... I come very close to death EVERYTIME I AM PREGNANT! You have to go to th hospital 2-3 times weekly to get fluids or you WILL DIE! There IS NO CURE for PREECLAMPSIA OR ECLAMPSIA which is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY! The only way to stop it is to deliver the child! I also experience this as well. So PLEASESTOP PLAYING DR. IF YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHERE TO EVEN BEGIN, OU WENT TO LAW SCHOOL, NOT MED SCHOOL!

    October 24, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  18. Dianne

    Just another example of how politicians will take a man's word and twist them to try and discredit him. If we, the people, of these United States REALLY want a more perfect union, really want this country to once again be respected across the world, then we need to unite UNDER GOD, because united we stand, divided, we fall.

    October 24, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  19. BigD

    It is disturbing the GOP supports so many of these candidates. After the tenth time it happens? They think rape is the woman's fault.

    October 24, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  20. Orlando guy

    And this one belongs to the Dems. What an idiot.

    October 24, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  21. Diane

    it's amazing how these people get elected.

    October 24, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  22. NamePat

    What is up with these GOP candidates? Are they INSANE? While I'm glad we're FINALLY acknowleding our Creator, I believe its arrogant to assume to know His intentions......

    October 24, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  23. Lar5

    The republican horror show continues.
    What has happened to the the real GOP? Akin and now Mourdock. This is horrendous. Romney must disavow any connection with this man's campaign. Any woman who votes for either of them has lost her mind. Yes Gov, the GOP war on women continues. It"s about time you clamped down on these misogynists. You tried to come across as a moderate in the debate. Now's the time to prove it. Tell him to resign from the race.

    October 24, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  24. Heather Johnson

    I completely disagree with Akin. What he said is disturbing. As hard as it is to imagine how what Mourdock said could be true, it is. I am a woman and the very core of me shudders to think that a woman pregnant from rape could be something God can use for good. However, I know that the baby inside the woman has never hurt one soul and does not deserve to be punished for the crimes of the rapist. If you went with the kill the baby mentality, then how is the woman (who murders a little baby) much different from the man (who rapes a woman)? Believe me, these words do not come easy. As a woman I understand wanting to get out of your body anything that reminds you of something as terrible as rape. I really do. However, as a mother, I know how innocent my children are and that they don't deserve to be punished (or killed) because of something someone else did.

    October 24, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  25. joyce john

    babies are good gift from god.and who ever thinking abaout abortion is a sinner no matter that baby is also the result of a sin.but the baby has the right to live

    October 24, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
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