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. ViK100

    Yes, most Americans support killing babies.

    October 24, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. kite005

    This otta help his chances for victory in November. I would say he is absurd and sick.

    October 24, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Bill

    By his logic then when a woman is raped it is God's will that she gets gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes and/or AIDS. When are women going to wake up and realize that these far right republicans are completely insensitive and ignorant when it comes to women's rights?

    October 24, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Mark

    When the republicans lost the last presidebntial election, that was also God's will. And if they loss control on the houses, that will also be God's will. When people die, that's God's will. When soneone does not know when to keep their mouth shut, that's their lack of will.

    October 24, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. RealityCheck

    God made the plumbing. Man chose to misuse it. Don't blame God because the plumbing worked as designed.

    October 24, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. anon

    This is all Republicans need this close to the election. I wonder if this guy, and Aken are idiots, or perhaps people planted into the Republican ranks by Democrats in an effort to throw the election off for Romney?

    Either way, Romney no doubt would like nothing more then to hire some thugs to beat the crap out of this guy.

    October 24, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. Dave R.

    If you have a daughter Mr Mourdock, go a head and tell her that. It will really make her day.

    October 24, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. ViK100

    I APPLAUD Richard Mourdock's stance. People are twisting his words. Clearly he is talking about the respect he has for LIFE as created by God. Many here are crying foul.. As if killing babies was any less of a shamefull crime than raping.

    October 24, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Bremen3011

    Rape is god's will? Wow. So I guess that is how Mary was impregnated.

    October 24, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Ed in Reno, Nevada

    Of course God believes in rape. Hasn't anyone heard about how Jesus was conceived?

    October 24, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Calidip

    And yet these are the same people that say those who follow the quaran are evil. Pot meet kettle. Republicans and tea-baggers are in the same mindset as those extremist that stone women or shoot girls in the head for getting an education.

    October 24, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. Russ

    Hopefully, Mourdock's career is over. Women, vote this idiot out. It's up to you. The men won't do it.

    October 24, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. SokrMom

    Well, I guess rape might as well be legal! When will the GOP just come right out and say that the real function of women is to provide babies for men?

    October 24, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. Hal

    Why do we even bother arresting people? Is someone is murdered, isn't that God's will?

    October 24, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. Anonymous

    what a moron

    October 24, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  16. Rational Thinker

    I do not believe in god. But I do believe in America. However if Romney wins this election, and Republicans win a majority in the senate, I know that I will no longer have faith in this country or it's people. If the majority of the country as a whole is this ignorant and stupid, then I want nothing to do with it. So please re-elect the president. He may not be perfect, but he certainly deserves another shot. Even if you disagree, at least he is not trying to take us back to 1950's Pleasantville to live in black and white. I don't know about you, but putting women back in the kitchen is not a great idea, especially since my wife can't cook.

    October 24, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. Dorothy

    If men had the babies, there would be one child per family. Men have stuck their noses into women's issues where it does not belong. Romney has just lost my vote. I will not vote for someone who would endorse someone like Murdock.

    October 24, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. retroman

    So I guess when he loses the election that will also be God's will.

    October 24, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. Keith

    This guy is an idiot! I'm conservative and christian but his position is so far off base of BOTH that even I hope he is defeated. His position has nothing to do with religion or faith but only politics!

    October 24, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. donz0

    On Monday night, Romney's son apologized to Obama for his agressive threat. Then, Ann Coulter used the R- word... TWICE. Today, Romney distanced himself from GOP presidential nominee from Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and his insane remark. This afternoon, Romney will have to distance himself from Donald Trump. Tomorrow, will Mitt Romney have to leave the Republican party to get away from all this unbelieveable, disgusting garbage???

    October 24, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  21. Brad life log GOPer

    Idiot just plain stupid. How can any one say something so uncaring and stupid? This one needs to be put out to pasture.

    October 24, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  22. Sumdood

    So, by that logic, abortions are God's will, too?

    October 24, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  23. ViK100

    So, the solution to a crime committed against you is to go and commit a bigger crime against a baby who can't defend himself??

    October 24, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Oh my God.., this is why the Rpubicans fair so poorly mongst women. Even though this Boffoun will have no impact on Abortion legislation ( no one is ) ,it is offensive. As a man.., a Father of two beautiful Daughters.., I want to cover his mouth with duct tape..,

    October 24, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. Marie

    OMG, I can't believe in this day and age people like him are still out there spewing this crap. After all the horrible things women and their supporters have gone through the years, by supporters I mean enlightened men, that this is still an issue is beyond comprehension. Please what does rape have to do with God?

    October 24, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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