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. calamity jane

    People who try to make proclamations like this usually have skeletons in their closet that would horrify us. His next statement will probably be in favor of incestual relationships.

    October 24, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  2. jody

    God has NO PLACE in politics....period

    October 24, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. SNoob

    Who are these people and how do they get elected to anything?

    October 24, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. NoTags

    I just wonder how many women in America today would just love to go up to this jerk and slap him silly.

    October 24, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. Queen0fCups

    I am so glad such an esteemed news organization can sort out the really important news issues of the day. Abortion rights are so important compared to what that awful fox news is reporting on, Benghazi. I mean, it's not like anyone died while they watched on video, or anything... Oh, wait...

    October 24, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. Brenda - Ontario Canada

    I totally agree with Jack Sonberg ... if you believe in God then you would/should also believe in the Devil and if this is the case then it is the Devil's will that a woman is raped not God's. No woman should have to carry a child she did not plan to conceive or want to conceive especially if that conception occurs due to a violent act.

    Under a Romney/GOP government, women will be driven back to the dark ages where they were nothing more than chattel to the male population. When I look at what the election outcome could be in the US, I am ever so thankful that I am a Canadian woman – free to make my own decisions regarding my body.

    October 24, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Marshall

    Women out there! I'm speaking to you. Are you listening? Mourdock is not an exception. He is representative of many of the right wing nuts in the Republican Party. Think now before you vote. Think now! Think now before it's too late.

    October 24, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. info@

    the repugs are really getting sick.
    beware a right wing godist take over ~ you will bend the knee or die.

    October 24, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. ghostriter

    Oregan Tom, God's will is whatever republicans tell you it is.

    Sarah Palin said God would choose the president in 2008. I'm thinking that it's not God's voice they are hearing.....

    October 24, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. sensor

    People actually elected this guy.. sad..Any one who thinks they know what the desires of the invisible man in sky are and believe they should enforce the belief about the invisible man in sky's desire on people who could care less about his/their understanding of the invisible man in the sky's desire should be removed from public serviceand listed publicly as "One who believes they hear from an invisible man in the sky", of course the list is huge.

    October 24, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. Mk54

    Republican troglodytes obviously still roam the land in dangerous numbers and still get ELECTED.

    October 24, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. obamaphone

    I have 8 kids! I will vote Obama because he gave me my free obamaphone! Now I can call up all my homies. And I dont pay a cent for this or any of my gov't handouts! Obama makes this all possible. Thats why I will vote for him. Oh wait, I'm a convicted felon so I cant vote, but you can America! Keep this welfare prez in office for me and all my homies! HOLLA!

    October 24, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Coo Coo Mf'r!

    October 24, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. ModerateMass

    Wow. This actually _helps_ me. I've been torn between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown in the Senatorial race up here in Massachusetts. I voted for Brown last time, and was leaning his way again. Despite how they paint each other, I think both candidates are pretty reasonable people, they're just stronger/ weaker in certain areas – either one would serve us well, I just think Brown is a bit easier to get along with and would have an easier time crossing the aisle.

    All that said: I have daughters. And, I'm coming to the conclusion that I can't empower the GOP until they get these lunatics out of their party, in order for me to feel like my daughters will have a fair, and safe, future.

    October 24, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Norm

    I hate all Republicans and I hate their fascist Christian Sharia Law. Abortion bans, birth control bans, gay marriage bans and general big government fascist control of our lives is all Republicans have to offer.

    I'd rather pay higher taxes and be truly free than be a Wall Street slave and have the Tea Party making my choices for me.

    Rape is NOT God's Will. Rape is the will of fascist women hating Republicans, who defend it at every turn.

    October 24, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. jen

    So, when Mr. Mourdock gets F'd in the A against his will and without his express consent (which I truly hope happens), that's God's will too, I suppose.

    October 24, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. susan porretta

    Can't agree more with Lars 5–where are the moderate republicans who represent the center? Voting for these lunatics is sending the wrong message about what government is about. We need to purge the government of these loonies.

    October 24, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  18. Barlow23

    CNN and MSNBC have both buried the Benghazi email breaking news...not even a link on the front pages...unbelievable.

    October 24, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. TexaSAM

    If I don't believe in YOUR god, your opinion or "afterlife punishment" means nothing to me. If you think the US should be a theocracy based on YOUR god, Congratulations. You just joined the Taliban, who we've been fighting since 2001. Same policies, different religion. Personally, I don't care what you beeive as long as you keep it to yourselves & don't try to force it on me via politics. MYOB.

    October 24, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. pntherpaw86

    I want to see Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison make her rounds again on the Sunday talk shows to once again try and say the GOP loves women, doesn't have a women problem, and that it is really the Deomcrats that are anti-women. It makes me laugh every time and shows how much of a joke of a politician she is. I will NEVER consider voting for a Republican candidate again until members of the GOP start standing up for decency again and forcing the extreme members of their party out into the cold instead of embracing/defending them.

    October 24, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. 000MM

    Do not let these misogynists ruin your lifes. Clip their wings.
    Vote them out of public eyes.

    October 24, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. Tina1649

    What planet is this idiot from???? A violent crime like rape is never a good thing and certainly any decision for resulting pregnancy of that crime should be a decision made by the female victim. This man is crazy.

    October 24, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Rick 7809

    This person is typical of why I will no longer want to be identified with the GOP.

    October 24, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. JMC

    Reading Hattir's comment about her child conceived from rape, it is very compelling to read her perspective (10/24/2012 at 10:43 am) and yet I am confused by the way she ends her statement "I"d never have found him [her son] if I didn't have to deal with what I did on June 11, 2010." I just wonder what this could mean???? Surely she didn't "do" her own rape?

    October 24, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  25. Adrianne Gant

    Mr. Murdock decided to blame everyone else but never retracted from his initial comment. He kept saying God this and God that but never showed remorse. He kept saying it is God's will to have life but never denounce that it should be the women's choice. How many times do we have to have men decide for us? I don't think men realized that rape is not the only reason females have abortions. Sometimes they are not mentally, or economically ready to have children. We also know how difficult it is to be a black child adopted.

    October 24, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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