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. David Sloan

    Under the Murdock law, when a raped woman says she will kill herself rather than have a baby from rape then be qualified to have an abortion to save her life? Why can't we get religeous beliefs out of politics and back in our individual consciences? A good way to destroy our form of government is to include contentuous theocratic beliefs into our laws!

    October 24, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Snoopz

    This is almost as bad as a president who lies to the people he leads over a terror attack in Libya.

    October 24, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. ROMNEY2012

    Only a Democrat would think they are above the WILL of the LORD!
    How foolish can you be? Obama is PROOF that the LORD is punishing us for YOUR SINS!
    You still have a chance for redemption, vote for MITT ROMNEY! The chosen one of GOD and the LORD JESUS!
    Obama brings us close to the pits of hell, but we are not doomed yet. HOPE STILL REMAINS!
    VOTE ROMNEY, or AMERICA is DOOMED BY THE ANTICRHIST OBAMA

    October 24, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. Sue

    So by this logic, it would be wrong for any "christian" to also take ANY life, even murders through capital punishment? If you can't end a life at conception for ANY reason, humans have no right or authority to end a life at any other time. I guess he is opposed to the death penalty and any form of war?

    October 24, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. wimsy

    The Republicans are the American Taliban, and the Tea Party are their leaders: they know what God wants, and they know how you must live your life. Woman, obey your husband!

    Waiting for the first Republican to file a bill to stone women to death if they sass a man.

    October 24, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Rape is not God ordained. Rape is a free will act of evil and abuse against women; women who God Loves very much. Anyone who would suggest that God ordained a seed of rape is as evil and abusive as the rapist himself. Anyone who votes for such an ideal, that God ordains the rape and abuse of women are evil. These candidates who the evil vote for do not only appreciate rape; they also appreciate war and the protection of the anti-Christ and the dissemination of our planet with vast oil and other destructive interests. They are the oppressors in Satan's army. Anyone who votes for these candidates of Satan will reap what they sow, "tarra". It is the end of times/ It is written as you All well know. If you vote for Satan's army; you will receive hell on earth and starvation of the masses due to sociopath greed/ in favour of a course of action and adaptation to rapid accelerated climate change, an action to Save the Planet, The Saviour is alive today and she is carefully watching over you. The time is here; the choice is yours. Please vote and be a part of God's army and peace on earth with equality among All people and All living things. May God Bless and Keep you All. Signed, Love/The Bride of Christ/ Omega/ The Last.

    October 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. Bob

    I'm sick and tired of false-Christian Republicans excusing any evil act they agree with or have committed themselves, as "the will of God'. My God does not perpetuate evil, I guess theirs does and I think his name is Satan.

    October 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. Jason

    Why is it that I'm not surprised that it's a Republican who said this? Seriously, is the GOP trying to alienate itself from all female voters?

    October 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. gedankemeiste

    I thought we had separation of religion from government. Apparently not.

    October 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  10. Matt

    Typical right-wing hypocrite. Pro-choice is "pro-murder" but conception by rape is the will of God. How's that Kool Aid taste?

    October 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. beverly

    Omg! What is wrong with this man! Never would. I have the child of a man who had raped me ....I am voting for obama!

    October 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  12. Mike

    If it's God's will being fulfilled when pregnancy results from rape, then surely it's Gods will that some mothers lives are endangered while pregnant. When, where and how does this idiot (and many others like him) decide to legislate for or against God's will? Keep God, if there is one, out of polotics and as far away from me as possible.

    October 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  13. Still Bill

    I hope the people of Indiana are smart enough not to allow this sociopath to represent them in the US Senate.

    October 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  14. belleg

    Every life deserves a chance. Yours did

    October 24, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. Matt

    In the field of nonsense issues only mentioned to stir the public into a poopstorm, rape has become this year's illegal immigration.

    October 24, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Who me?

    ..are stiill-born or deformed babies a gift from god?That would probably go under the category of mysterious,right?

    October 24, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. Brian

    "The strategist argued that because "Indiana is a very pro-life state," Mourdock's comments "won't be fatal" for his Senate campaign."

    This is the real tragedy right here. It's okay for someone to have a stupid opinion and say it out loud, it's not okay for the general population to avoid holding these people unaccountable in November. I have no respect for anyone who would think a rape pregnancy is a gift from God.

    October 24, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. Valerie Sylvester

    These people are sociopaths.

    October 24, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. johnbeer

    I guess the Republicans want Harry Reed to remain in charge of the Senate to further enable the destruction of a once good nation. Harry Reed will block any attempts by Romney to save this nation. We can thank Mourdock and Akin for that possible eventuality. Enemies of the nation are not just Democrats these days. A few Republicans are enablers, as well. Nothing Mourdock opined is in the Bible. Christianity is defined by God, not people like Mourdock. Stop saying that people like Mourdock cause you to not want to be a Christian. If there were no people like him, you would have another excuse.

    October 24, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  20. MommaJ

    Deuteronomy 22

    28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    Numbers 31:
    "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them. "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD's people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."

    Can we please take the Judeo-Muslim-Christian "God" out of politics? It really has no business in law-making (which was actually one of Jesus' more important points, grossly overlooked by modern day "Christians").

    The viewpoint on rape from the "God" of that Bible really has NO place in modern society. I am not willing to have this garbage in our civil life. Are you?

    October 24, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. F. Clark

    First of all this man apparently doesn't know the God I serve. I pray this tax payers will never have to pay any person who disrespect women in this manner. Tell him to walk in the shoes of someone who has been in the family with a rape victim. Women wake up what kind of person would say this.

    October 24, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. toad

    Another Sarah Palin endorsed wacko job! The tea party loves this guy!

    October 24, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. Penny Wright

    A message for women....

    Mitt Romney is for ending funding for Planned Parenthood...including cancer screenings.

    He said he would overturn Roe v Wade.

    We have Republicans trying to redefine rape....trying to force women to get invasive ultrasounds.

    If you think this election won't effect you and your life, think again.

    Vote for Barack Obama.

    October 24, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. dad

    sohappy. He says 'rape is god's will' and 'god does not want rape'. Any third grader can realize that by logic those two things are mutually exclusive. It is one thing to be against Abortion entirely, but to make up bad arguments, or falsify the bodies 'medical prevention of pregnancy during rape' undermines true reasons to be against abortion.

    October 24, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  25. Jim Jensen

    Belief in God is the beginning, not of wisdom, but of stupidity. How does this fool "know" that the rape and consequential pregnancy is not an act of Satan? Christians believe that both God and Satan act in the world, but I've never heard any of them offer a means reliably to determine which is responsible for some particular event.

    October 24, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
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