(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'
Good, buddy...let God pay for the delivery and child support for 18 years...
I am pro-life and a Christian. However, how stupid can a man be? Looking at this, far more than I thought possible. Outrageous.
You big dum e u don't understand god too many fools n office r running for office. man what
Another great example of why i'm ashamed to live in Indiana.
Keep your God out of my uterus!
If only guys were the ones who had to deal with pregnancy, we would have none of these issues to fight. My heart goes out to all those who have been victims of rape.
Really, I'm tired of candidates saying stupid things in debates and then trying to nuance them away after the fact. Dick Lugar lost because he was sane; TeaPartier's wanted something different - and they got it.
Is he too religious to believe in the devil!?
This man, like Akin, is sick. I'd love to see how he reacted if it was his wife, daughter, Sister etc......disgusting.
A true republican agenda!!! vote them out 2012!!!
omfg – i know even the asses have a right to bray, but these asses are braying out their asses!
This idiot has no place in public office. What the hell is wrong with the GOP and these morons who just keep trying to out freak each other. You're a disgrace to Congress and a disgrace to your party.
Talk about President's failures CNN – don't spin in the last 14 days.
thank god we have mourdock here to tell us what god does and does not want. the only thing worth reporting here is that people actually elect idiots who pretend to know the will of god
Don't believe Richard Mourdock's ridiculous statement. The pregnancy happened due to the laws of nature when healthy reproductive organs come in contact. He's trying to say God's will is for a man to rape a woman and cause a pregnancy? That makes about as much sense as he being elected senator.
Its one thing to be against abortion. This takes the anti-abortion argument to an extreme. This guy is using theology to legitimate it. This is as bad, if not worse, than the statement made by Todd Adkin. Republicans could probably do better if they stopped nominating the socially far-right. I understand that many people are against abortion, but this rhetoric is disgusting.
Women's body can reject pregnancy due to rape – 100% physicians reject it
Climate change is a hoax – 98% of climate scientists agree
Those 15B year fossils are only 6000 years old and god planted them t trick us
And still the tea-partier from Illinois think science and technology are so great, that there is no such thing as risk to mother's health anymore.
I am seriously concerned that this man wants to represent the citizens of his state – especially women. Speaking as a woman who has experienced being raped – are you kidding me???? Then may God send a nice rapist to rape your wife or daughter so that the world can experience another beautiful life and you can explain to them why they must carry that child, birth that child, heck let's raise that child and explain to that child later how his/her father was a rapist.
I think you should experience rape and maybe you'd know a little bit more about what you are recommending! You are a disgrace.
Once Mourdock has been raped, he can talk. Until then, shut up.
How do you know it was God's will to create the life? Maybe God's will was to actually have an abortion and you are mucking it up by not allowing one. And if everything happens as God's will anyways then why ban abortions. No one will be able to get an abortion that is against God's all powerful will anyways no matter how much you try to get one.
And finally, using the same 'logic', atheists should be able to get abortions because they dont believe in God to start with. So will the government sponsor atheist abortion clinics?
So, If. God doesn't want rape, why does he seem unable or unwilling to stop it? After all, he's the one who created the heavens, the Earth and all life, has control of all things....right?? If he doesn't want good people to suffer, why does he allow it? Can't blame it on Satan because you're just as guilty for standing by and allowing to happen, bubba.
I sense religious Republitard stupidity riding high.
We need lot look to rogue states in the Middle East for female-suppressing radicals.
The difference here, thankfully, is that women have the right to vote in the USA.
the gop: stupid men who don't know anything, blabbering on about an imaginary guy in the sky who is also stupid if he existed
Speaking of God. Good God, these guys are certifiably NUTS!
By abbreviated extension, Mourdock is saying that rape is God's will. After all, there would be no pregnancy if there was no rape.
Stop the madness: Vote Democrat in 2012.
What a dog!
Highly disrespectful of the rape victims; what his GOD says is irrelevant.