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. Ed

    I am a proud republican but come on....people like this make the GOP look bad.

    October 24, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. snowdogg

    Would Richard Mourdock be so sanguine if it were his daughter or wife that had been raped?

    October 24, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  3. David

    Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked.

    None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

    [Daniel 12:10]

    October 24, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  4. Billy Jack

    God intended rape. I am insane now.
    Only when faith overpowers logic does rape becomes a heavenly deed.
    Life is not a gift from god. It is what happens when a hoo ha meets a ding ding. There are 7 1/2 billion of us now. I promise you we are not all divinely inspired gifts from above.

    October 24, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  5. Ludwig

    The hits just keep on coming. The only thing worse than the ignorance displayed by these candidates is the support they get from voters. You have to wonder how any of these people made it through junior high.

    October 24, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. Alyson

    We have to ask ourselves what is wrong with the American voters that they elect people like this. IN GOD WE TRUST blah, blah, blah, blah. Let us take god out of politics where it doesn't belong because face it as the man made concept that it is. I'd rather forge my own destiny and not be at the mercy of lunatics like Mr. Whats his name!!!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Middle Class Independent Swing State Voter

    When you vote for a Romney/Ryan ticket, this is what you are voting for. The GOP has lost it's way and Americans can't wait around for them to figure it out and catch up.

    OBAMA/BIDEN '12 FORWARD

    October 24, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. chem3k

    Rapists have a new defense – "I was just spreading God's gifts, your Honor"

    October 24, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  9. A Godbodian

    I mean really?
    C'mon...
    I can't even think of a way to respond without sounding like an idiot for validating this stupidity with my response.

    Republicans you can do better.

    October 24, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  10. Steve

    The reason for separation of church and state are clear. Jefferson would have used this as an example of beliefs derived from religious beliefs that should not be force fed down someone's throat. As a Christian, I disagree completely with this person. It is more likely an example of an individuals free will purportrating a crime on another. Then the physical result of the crime. As an American Citizen I question his sanity. No less crazy than the suicide bombers in the middle east.

    October 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. No more rape excuses

    The really sick thing is that Murdoch claims to know god's will, god's intentions and the heck with the rape victim. It must be his god's love to force an unwanted pregnancy on a woman then. Is that the sort of "free will" god has in mind?

    My god will not accept rapes or the after effects of rapes that put the burden even more on a woman. My god let medical science come in to help. On top of all this we also know that the very same GOP guys and sad sacks will also cut off support of single women and reduce funding for counseling and pre natal care.
    What vultures!

    October 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. Steve

    The reason for separation of church and state are clear. Jefferson would have used this as an example of beliefs derived from religious beliefs that should not be force fed down someone's throat. As a Christian, I disagree completely with this person. It is more likely an example of an individuals free will purportrating a crime on another. Then the physical result of the crime.

    October 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. Sophie Sites

    Rape is not a gift from God, Rape is a mis use of power of the rapist over their victim. A biological consequence of a woman being fertile and a man's sperm making a pregnancy is not a 'gift from god' It is a biological function. This senate candidate may have his own personal views, but when are personal views about being pro-life and justifying that by anything being a gift from God, God tells us not to kill yet does he support withdrawing all support from Veterans and defense funding? Or does this candidate pick and choose who he will support justifying it as "God's will". Maybe it's your God's will, my God wouldn't justify having a woman carry a rapists child unless she chose to. So let's do a parable; Let's liken this senate candidate who wanted to get rid of a tumor but society said he couldn't get rid of this tumor, and this tumor was caused by him being mugged in a parking lot and raped, so you have a tumor on this man's forehead that would remind him of a traumatic experience where he was violated, where he would have nightmares, where he wouldn't feel safe and then let's make him carry it around for 10 months, and not only would everyone see it, every once in awhile past 5-6 months of growing on his forehead it would move to remind you that it's there, that you were carrying this thing that wasn't your choice but because society made a law that made you carry it. You're mandated to not remove it, because well, You are a slave to what I want you to do, you have no rights over your own body, I own your body because you live in my country and I have determined that you can't get rid of the tumor.
    See God didn't make those men mug and rape you that night, some far evil source did, God was the one who got you through the pain of not going insane after you were mugged and raped and brought people into your life that understood what pain you went through. The Evil force though, it wants to own you, it wants you in the depths of literal hell on earth, it wants to continue misusing it's power over you, over everyone, so what will it do? It will reach out and infiltrate everything so you no longer have a voice, you are no longer free, you no longer have the right to make decisions in your life or over your body because it wants to own you. This evil force has owned a lot of our earth and it wants to continue it's mission, It wants to continue it's mission by having people quote "God's will". It wants politicians to judge us in our home, and in our hearts and in our heads and make decisions that will enslave us, because when our nation is enslaved, and our spirits are crushed and hopeless, then it's won. God is about love it isn't about what this senate candidate wants to do, or who's side he is supporting.

    October 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. Dani

    How many more completely ignorant and idiotic comments must we hear from some republican candidate on this issue, before the public realizes just how dangerous it would be for America to continue to support that narrow minded, divisive, intolerant and bigoted party? They are the American Taliban: want guns with no control, want to go against gays and lesbians, want to go against foreigners, want to go against women's rights, want to suppress the poor, want to go against medical coverage that is affordable, want to be xenophobic, want to dictate policy according to religious belief. I could go on and on, but if by now some people still haven't got it, then they are most likely the ignorant and blind followers of this very dangerous party, and nothing I or anyone else says will matter in their little, close minded mentality.

    October 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Nocho

    Tim posted "Maybe one of his family members will be "lucky" enough to receive such a "gift" and then we'll see how if he maintains his position. My guess is he won't."

    What a terrible thing to wish for, hope for or say. We are not responsible for what comes out of our relatives mouths.

    October 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. Highly_Amused

    It is difficult to comprehend how ANYONE could say such an absurd and abhorrent thing with a straight face!!?? UNBELIEVABLE! The Repugants and Tea baggers are DETERMINED to send America back into the Dark Ages!

    October 24, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. TheSara

    Some people seriously need to find a new god. -_-

    October 24, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  18. Darw1n

    Biology, yet another field of science that super cons will not tolerate.

    October 24, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  19. Steve

    The reason for separation of church and state are clear. Jefferson would have used this as an example of beliefs derived from religious beliefs that should not be force fed down someone's throat.

    October 24, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  20. TheSara

    Some people seriously need to find a new god.

    October 24, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. quieteye

    One Senator can put a hold on legislation. And they have the right to remain anonymous while doing so.

    Minority can and does override a majority – This is how a coup-by-filibuster created dysfunctional gridlock we live with.

    Its not just about the Presidency – Its about Congress.

    Your country – your vote – your result.

    October 24, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  22. a4nrtheist

    "God made me do it". Not the devil

    October 24, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. Adam

    We should have experts in office, not religious extremists. I despise when these morons rave on and on about "Him" and "He." They're all just making up a response to when things beyond their simplistic understanding take place, such as rape or a disaster. RELIGION IS A LIE! GROW UP ALREADY!

    October 24, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  24. Libertarian

    Another example of why I don't vote Republican

    October 24, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. JD

    Every place has their village idiot. Indiana has theirs for sure.

    October 24, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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