(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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women wake up. do you really want politicians making decisions about what you can cannot do with your bodies? no question republican white house would result in overturning Roe vs Wade. no question. 2 of the liberal judges retiring
In a free society, you do not have the right to impress your religious beliefs on another, nor do you have the right to enforce those beliefs by rule of law. A candidate for any office should understand that, unless that candidate has a disdain for freedom and personal responsibility.
Why not just say rape itself is God's will? Apparently, rape couldn't have happened if God do not want it.
Wake up everyone. This is the Republican Party in 2012.
You are the worst person alive
cool. that must mean that killing stupid people is also intended by god.
Surprise, he's a Republican.
How is this guy and many other GOP men different from the Taliban? Can we just call it the American Taliban? Thanks
This is, I believe, what God had in mind whem he said e should not use his name in vane.
Richard Mourdock is another Tea Party obstructionist that just blew his campaign right out of the water. He needed to go. Indiana got rid of Lugar because he was willing to work with Obama. This is where our society is headed? I am ashamed.
God must have sent that guy to rape ya...can't make this up. How did this guy graduate high school?
wow...people are actually supporting these loonies? american taliban men, sure that i can understand, but normal, non neanderthals? thinking women? really?
And who made him GOD? With this information this ignorant American is spilling from his trash hole is unacceptable. Anyone with a brain please explain???
OMG can these Republicans getting any dumber. Now it is God's will that a woman is raped and becomes pregnant. So I guess we should not prosecute rapists since they could not fight against Gods will. Idiot. Where do these anti women come from.
but he is ok with it if the mother's life is in danger? Isn't that also "God's will"? It's ok to defy God in one instance and not the other? If an abortion happens, that is also "God's will". You can't be a Christian and not also be a hypocrit.
I hate that part of the party that I subscribe to use religion to base their legislative positions. It's ignorant and narrow minded. The majority of conservatives do not think this way, but it makes for great media. Those are the clowns that get the coverage. Either way, there is no chance of abortion being outlawed because we have a democratic controlled senate. Anyone who thinks that voting for these guys automatically means that women's reproductive rights will be taken away doesn't understand how a democracy works, and probably shouldn't be voting.
Really? Ignorance is at it's all time high I guess. He is a man.. he cannot walk in a womans shoes.. what happened to the "seperation of church and state?" Just like Romney, it's all about religion to them, they cannot be partial, they have to bring their religion into this.. they don't care about the opinion of the majority, it's all about them. UGH
According to Mr. Mourdock's theological logic, when a criminal destroys a life (kills someone), that incident would also be "something God intended to happen."
This guy has it right, it's like I've been saying all along, God's terrible.
Stupid is as stupid does.
Republicans saying outrageous things yet again. Should we be surprised?
As a long time Republican conservative, I have to say that this guy is an idiot and I would hold my nose and vote for the Democrat before voting for such a clown.
seems like Richard Mourdock, itself is proof that 'intelligent design' does not exist. no intelligent creature would ever have allowed something like this to exist.
Ok folks, I consider myself a conservative and I can tell you that this nut job is out of his mind and does NOT speak for the majority of conservatives or anyone else for that matter. I bet if someone raped his little girl he would not call it a blessing! Just saying...