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. Joel

    Is anyone surprised that a Republican named Dick is the one who thinks he should be able to legislatively force a woman to have a child that resulted from a rape?

    October 24, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. Jill

    Last week I saw a taped interview of Paul Ryan where he said rape is a method of conception. He was trying to justify his position that abortion should not be permitted due to rape or incest.

    October 24, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. Swannyww

    She will have a reminder of the rape forever.

    October 24, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Seven gartner

    And we think we're the best, most progressive country in the world! HAHAHAHHAHAH!!

    October 24, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. The Fed (as in fed up with stone age varmin)

    Visit Murdoch's website: married , NO children. Are we surprised?

    Pretty much every comment here has pointed out the TOTAL idiocy of Murdoch's stone age cave man intentions. His god gives free will to the rapist but not his victim or the woman's egg. Hey eggs are people too, from the moment of conception. Therefore the egg should have the choice to reject the rapist's violation.

    His god loves the woman, but allows her to be raped, then loves the product of this violation so much that only -perhaps- danger to the woman's health prevents a full term pregnancy. But we are not sure about it. Really, it seems his god loves the rapist's free will more than anything. He must. Otherwise, wouldn't he prevent that rape? Perhaps his god doesn't care, More LIKELY his god can't do anything about it , one way or other... Sad sacks.

    October 24, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. Rosslaw

    And if a rape victim considers abortion in a "red" state, the legislators of that benighted land might well require her to be raped again with an invasive, nonmedically required or desirable "ultrasound" dictated by the Orwellian minded legistators who are consumed with the need to enact American-style sharia law-all for her own good of course.

    October 24, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. Paula D.

    Mourdock is a hypocrite of the first order. If he truly believes that pregnancies from rape are God's intention then surely he must believe that pregnancies that jeopardize the life of the mother are also God's intention and, therefore, permitting abortion in such cases is against God's will. Mourdock wants to play both sides of the coin; he is truly an amazing individual–profoundly idiotic on so many levels.

    October 24, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. Jake Rockwel

    Separation of church and state for the win! Are they trying to destroy any chance of winning? Making the statement to women Your body, My opinion... I win. BTW god told me I'm right. Idiots.

    October 24, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. Steve

    Does that make it God's will she was raped too? 50 years ago unwanted children were put up for adoption. What's wrong with that? What's next in our sick country, put down our elderly like we do our pets?

    October 24, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. Consequence

    At the end of the day, life is life and, no matter the cause, the life within is innocent. it is better that our compassion for life excel our fears...compassion and love for others, especially the innocent, are the best of human traits. Fear and destruction of life should be understood only in certain cases, but never taught as the highest principle.

    October 24, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. simp

    How in the world does anybody vote for these cave men? They say what they mean and then try to squarm out of it. Women you better wake up, with romney's lies and other repubs that think like this, we as woman should be flooding the polls and NOT voting for these idiots.

    October 24, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. allaisa

    Considering that nothing happens without God's will, even rape, incest or murder all happen because God wills it. So let us abolish our penal laws and give the criminals a free hand with the hope that they will use that freedom against this imbecile.

    October 24, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. dvision

    Maybe we should develop technology where the fertilized embryo of a rape victim is removed from the womb and implanted in a good christian mother and carried to term. Any Takers??? That's what I thought.

    October 24, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. Jay

    I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I realized that life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen," Mourdock said – (Copied from the story above)

    If life is so precious to you Republicans, what is your position on guns? Where is your "life is a gift from God" stance when it comes to the thousands of innocents killed every year?

    I will NEVER understand Republicans and their stupidity and utter hypocrisy.

    October 24, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. Horus

    Well if you use the logic that the pregnancy is "god's will", wouldn't the r a p e be "god's will" also? How do you religious folks determine what is and what is not your "god's will"? Better yet, who votes for this type of person?

    October 24, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. Shake the GOD from the GOP.

    People who run for office should first leave their GOD on the steps and not bring them into Public Office... they clearly misunderstand the phrase seperation of Church and State.. American's sociality is taking a wrong turn when it feel it needs to allow religion into politic.... they need to wake-up and educate themselve better....this atmophere of wars on ideology coming from the middle east is only bringing America down to its level and retoric like this coming from Politically involved people only exaterbates the situation... Ban religion from Politics...... any thing less is unamerica.

    October 24, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. carolusa

    ChrisVC, the CleanUp Man, and MelkatMom all made very good observations – THANK YOU! Please folks, remember that the Taliban believe that their god thinks that women are only worth 1/2 of a man and that they should not be allowed to education and freedom to be happy. 40 years ago, the US would have never believed that we would even be talking about this. We are moving in the wrong direction my friends!

    October 24, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. Guest

    It's time that people vote extremists out of office no matter which party they belong to.

    October 24, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. tony

    Pregnancy is a deliberate gift from God that any teenager with a condom can stop???? Some god. . . . . Some meaning for life . . .

    October 24, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. ww

    So are you trying to say that rape is also a gift if it results in a baby?

    October 24, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. MJ180

    OK, following that logic, if a woman has an abortion, it is God's will, so leave her alone. In fact, if someone commits any crime (murder, rape, robbery), it is God's will , so leave them alone.

    This idiot's position allows anyone to do anything with no consequences.

    October 24, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. GvilleT

    Get over it!!! There's nothing he said that is wrong. It was from the heart and he was by no means disrespectful. I get so tired of survivors of heinous crimes claiming they feel disrespect for this comment, disrespected for that comment, when 9 times out of 10 the person didn't mean anything by saying what was said. He meant NO disrespect nor did he say it with any disrespect. With that being said, this Christian mother of 2 has to disagree with his stand on abortion. I don't agree with it in most cases, but the government needs to stay out of my business if for any reason I should find myself pregnant and NEED to have an abortion for my well being (health reasons, rape, incest..whatever).

    October 24, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. N. Shapiro

    Does this vicious, blasphemous, falsely sanctimonious nut think rape is God's will??
    God gives humans free will, to chose, we each decide our good or evil actions.
    All actions have consequnces. Some consequences can be avoided, and should
    be avoided.
    I bet if this loon had a heart attack, he'd call a Doctor, not blame and accept, his phony idea of "God's Will'.

    October 24, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. Tony Guy

    Fundamentalists are dangerous.
    Letting religious views trump rational thought is akin to letting the inmates run the asylum. If I had this guy's god I'd find a new religion.

    October 24, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. mdbill

    i agree with sharl; wow...i am just speechless.... let's be honest though this is the kind of mentality that at least 50% of Americans are ready to vote into office. when that happens and the fit hits the shan, know you were warned...

    October 24, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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