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. joseph taylor

    what do the word of GOD say thy shalt not kill abortions is wrong period i dont care how you look at it i understand yall think thats the right thing to do but yall wrong the right thing to do is to go by the word of GOD taking a life is WRONG

    October 24, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. funnthingis

    Rape is an evil act. And it is never God's will to commit evil! Some people are so WARPED!

    October 24, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Bob

    Once again the Republican party has chosen to be the official voice of God. How else can you explain such weird positins on rape and abortions?

    October 24, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. Sebastian2

    Rape is NOT a divine act. Anyone in office who believes that a women's reproductive rights should be compromised (and viciously assaulted) by the actions of a rapist acting on 'god's will' are a genuine danger to women everywhere. We can NOT allow a group of white middle-aged men to have sway over the reproductive rights of women in these United States. I would expect such a remark from the Taliban, not a United States' senatorial candidate...

    And I can only imagine Murdock's reaction if this 'divine act' were visited upon his wife or his daughter...

    October 24, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Ken

    Well – if the pregnancy is God's will, maybe he should try to decriminalize the act of rape. After all, it's "God's will" that it happened.

    What an imbecile! Republicans once again show how they love women.

    October 24, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. P. Mummert

    If a human being came into the world as a consequence of a rape, would Joe Donnelly tell that person "God never intended you to exist"?

    October 24, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Alex

    Why does he allow an exception for when the health/life of the mother is at risk? By his own logic, she should die because "it is something God intended to happen."

    October 24, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. mccall995

    I DISSAGREE WITH THAT STATEMENT THAT IS NOT GODS WILL UNBELIEVABLE THAT IS THE DEVILS WORK NO WOMAN SHOULD HAVE TO GO THROUGH THAT THAT IS SAD UNBELIEVABLE HOLLAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

    October 24, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. LIZ

    So if a member of the Muslim Brotherhood raped his daughter he would be fine with bringing that baby to term? I swear these male politicians are ridiculous. If you do not have lady parts you HAVE NO RIGHT to have an opinion on this issue.

    October 24, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. Tim

    The same weirdos would say it's God's will if any human opposes their will on or abuses some other human in some way. I.e., a mall shooting, and so on. This extremely ignorant type of statement, is the sort of stuff that is killing the GOP for future generations (and it should, if that's the way things are going to continue). Can't people just be normal, no matter which party they belong to? How are people like this allowed to run for office, instead of getting the help they need for their disorder? I'm being serious.

    October 24, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  11. Everyman

    So to save a baby they are willing to kill it's mother. This is the twisted world according to conservatives.

    October 24, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  12. alleycat

    sure can tell these people are not saved or they would know rape is not gods will violence against women never is gods will anyone that is saved knows rape is the work of the devil not god this remarkl sounds like maybe a 5th grader said it

    October 24, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  13. Susan P

    It's too bad these so-called men haven't faced any rapes in their families. How quick they would change their views if the rapist-daddy shows up on their doorsteps demanding to see his kid, visitations, Christmas gatherings etc. And these GOPers would be tied to these rapist-daddies for as long as they live. How do these guys' girlfriends/wives/whatever fact them everyday is beyond me.

    October 24, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  14. raidurgesh

    Such bizarre logics almost defy intellectual human progress in 21st century. Creationists in 3rd millennia are living proofs of the fact that evolution is a slow process and that there are so many left behind struggling to evolve. And 24×7 iPod music won't help the cause a bit in future!

    October 24, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  15. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Gee, I can't wait to tell my wife, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, Aunts and women co-workers that if they ever get pregnant by being raped, don't worry, it's God's plan for your life. Republicans have absolutely lost their minds. That is a medical diagnosis and a verifiable fact. Go to hell, GOP, where you belong.

    God bless our sane President, Barack Obama.

    October 24, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  16. Travis

    This is not a slip of the tongue or someone twisting his words. This is how he and the majority of Tea Party republicans think.

    October 24, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  17. YoursIsNoDisgrace

    I cannot believe anyone would vote for these fascists.

    October 24, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  18. Anonymous

    So the rapist should be free of charges because it's not his fault that God made him do it right..?

    October 24, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  19. theresarbowers

    Where do they find these people????

    October 24, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  20. ChrisVC

    Well when you base your life, beliefs, and values on an imaginary character, you'll certainly learn to justify a lot of horrible and stupid ideas.
    BTW – if the mother's life is threatened by the pregnancy, then by this guy's logic, and I use the term loosely, wouldn't that be God's will as well? For that matter where does it stop. Any unwanted or harmful action could be God's will – murder, cancer, financial collapse, stubbing your toe.

    October 24, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  21. Ting

    Of course it's God's will. That is why “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, hom ophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” – Richard Dawkins.

    October 24, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  22. A mom

    Wow, where did these people grow up and go to school to be so ignorant? It's unbelievable to me that in 2012 people think women don't die from pregnancy and childbirth and that it's OK to be raped because God wants you to have a baby. WOW! What rock did these people crawl out from, and who are the people that would support them? Did I fall into a time warp? Something is seriously wrong with these people. If these people get 1 vote I am scared for Americans. A true Christian is tolerant of other beliefs and does not judge others.

    October 24, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  23. OldSchool

    I think this perpetuation and apparent rise of religiously inspired ignorance is a result of our faltering education system. It is imperative that these anti-science zealots be fought at every turn to prevent them from gaining any more ground...

    October 24, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  24. Me

    I love the timing of these very inappropriate comments some Republicans keep making. Good job!!! lololol

    October 24, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  25. Canuck

    " said at a debate Tuesday that pregnancies resulting from rape are intended by God."

    What if you don't believe in God??? These guys are just plain nuts.

    October 24, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
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