October 24th, 2012
01:15 PM ET
2 years 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 (2,701 Responses)
  1. Nancy

    So, if a man commits a violent act against a woman, that woman must accept the consequences for the rest of her life. Does it follow that if a woman were to commit a violent act against a man ( say she were to hold Mr Murdoch at knife point and claim he has to support her child for the rest of his life) that man would have an obligation to accept that "gift"?

    October 24, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  2. Jessica

    I will never, ever understand why Republicans are so against government interfering in people's lives, and yet they have no qualms about dictating to women about their bodies and physical/mental health and well-being. This man's comments are abhorrent and are a slap in the face of every woman who has been raped and had to struggle with a resulting pregnancy. Absolutely disgraceful and disgusting. I applaud the ACOBBGYN's strong statement-truer words were never spoken.

    October 24, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Anastasia Shoop

    Can we please make it a law that you can't be a wacko and run for public office?

    October 24, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. nonyabidness

    No news here, just another politician that is uninformed.

    October 24, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. ncgh

    it's a good thing God is not real, because if he were, he'd be the sickest bastar imaginable.

    October 24, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  6. fk

    Well guys, On a side note: I hear GOP pretty emphatically stating the Govt. needs to be out of the business of dictating what needs be done (EPA, Regulation, Banks....). Well, why shouldn't the GOP let the people decide wat they want on this one too...

    October 24, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. Renee

    Murdock says "life is a gift from God" and a baby conceived during a rape is God's will. He also feels that an abortion to save a women's life is acceptable. Isn't death God's will as well? Am I missing something here? Can we please stop using religion to justify our opinions? It doesn't hold up.

    October 24, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  8. mAtt11786

    this mother f*****s stupid as hell just give up your done.

    October 24, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  9. dizzylucy

    Bet all these guys would be singing a different tune if it was their wife, their daughter, or someone they loved in that horrible situation.
    Heck, as we've recently seen, all it took was an inconveniently pregnant mistress for one GOP anti-choicer to abandon his values.

    October 24, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  10. Billy in NYC

    More and more GOP men came out and said offensive things like Mourdock and Akin. It becomes clear that the whole GOP party is controlled by MAD men from the 1950s. They ignore the basic human rights of women and thier rights to their bodies. GOP is soooooo backward and jointing the extreme Tea Party lunatics in congress make the whole GOP agenda worst and disgusting. Does Mourdock himself have daughters? If he does, would he tell his daughter in public that if she is raped and get pregnant, it is GOD's intents? Please, GOP men STOP! Enough is enough. You are no GOD people.

    October 24, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  11. Horus

    If the pregnancy was "god's will", wouldn't also the r.ape be "god's will" – if you follow the same logic. What a pathetic excuse for a human being.

    October 24, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  12. caesarbc

    If rape is God's will – then he is Satan

    October 24, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  13. z2cents

    the american taliban

    October 24, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  14. Mourdock-THE-TRUTH

    Jesse Jackson
    James Robison
    Helen of Troy
    Kobe Bryant
    Albert Einstein
    Just a few that our society would have lost by abortion.

    October 24, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  15. Tommy

    I thought this kind of thinking went out with the middle ages. Apparently not.

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  16. Antiquity

    Vote 3rd party this election season for all of your local offices. If GOP and Dems want to play ping pong with the extremists on either side of political lines they should learn that the people they're supposed to be serving won't stand for it. Are you going to let something like this slide?

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  17. Anthony

    WOW!!!!!! this in no way expresses the true mentality that is the GOP party. I mean a rep from Missouri, senate hopeful from Indiana, gop senator from texas, this clearly liberal spin. When will america wake up and realize that the GOP has been hyjacked by the crazies in the psych ward and should not be elected into any political office, untill they are back on their meds and has showed presistant signs of actual brain activity.

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  18. Alina77

    People that vote for Mitt Romney should remember that they don't vote only for one person, they vote for bunch of right extremists that Romney will bring with him to the WH (remember, these people are not your grandfathers Republicans)..

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  19. H H

    Joe Walsh has never heard of ectopic pregnancies, which are fatal to the mother unless an abortion is performed. Oh – the fetus won't survive, either.

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. Anthony

    WOW!!!!!! this in no way expresses the true mentality that is the GOP party. I mean a rep from Missouri, senate hopeful from Indiana, gop senator from texas, this clearly liberal spin. When will america wake up and realize that the GOP has been takien over by the crazies in the psych ward and should not be elected into any political office, untill they are back on their meds and has showed presistant signs of actual brain activity.

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. PJ

    That is a GOP Mantra throughout. Some may never mention it in their campaign; however, they are thinking it.

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  22. Nancy

    If it is GOD'S will that a female become pregnant why would he go through such a violent way to make it happen. People have free will and a rapist isnt doing GOD's work .

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  23. caesarbc

    If rape is God's will, then he is Satan

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. Kate

    I cannot fathom how the running of our country has been put in the hands of people that would say things like this.

    October 24, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  25. caesarbc

    If it is God's will then he is satan.

    October 24, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
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