(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.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
"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.
Also on the CNN Political Ticker
– GOP Senate candidate accuses Dems of distorting his rape comments
– Clint Eastwood returns, stars in new super PAC ad
– Obama ad uses ghost of recount past
– Romney campaign and allies far outspending Democrats
– Trump's new charity drive
– Obama ready for 'all-nighter'
If God is compassionate, why would God choose rape to create life ? That is totally totally bizzar.
Mitt is waiting to respond? Why? Are the poll numbers on whether women deserve to be treated as human beings slow to come in?
The Republican party has compromised itself so much during this election that I thought nothing could surprise me. I was wrong. If Mitt thought this rape logic could get him the Presidency, he would use it himself. Child abuse that successfully takes place is God's will, grand larceny, murder, etc. Why should doctors treat ANY malady because clearly, all of this is God's will. Romney's response is "Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views." That he "DISAGREES" and is not totally sickened by these comments shows us that Romney has no core – we really have no idea what is important to him except that he wants to be President and will say and do anything to try and make this happen.
I happen to agree with the republican here. I know it may sound cruel to say that God wants a woman raped but if there is a God and he is omnipotent wouldn't that have to be the case? However I don't agree that life begins at conception. It begins at birth, that's what birth means; the beginning of life. Saying God doesn't want abortion is mans word not necessarily God's. Everything is God's will even if its not clear why.
"Mourdock said what millions of people believe – that babies are a gift from God," ... even if it has to be "given" to you through an act of violence and violation.
This is the prime example of what the Republican party is trying to push on to women and their families. We don't want others pushing their own agenda onto us when it comes to our reproductive rights. Stop trying to control women and stop trying to tell us how we should live our lives. What gives Congress the right to push their agenda whether it is religious or personal on women?
Only the good things are god's will....... yea right!....
FYI... no god, no devil, only fantasy fairy tales.
What ever happened to "Separation of church and state" ? This is the exact reason this county was founded.. Hello..Freedom of religion!)
And these kind of people do blame Talibans who kill in the name of god!!!!!! Having a dead brain is no an excuse.
People, be aware that FREE SPEECH IS NOT ALLOWED ON MR. MOURDOCK FACEBOOK PAGE. He's deleting comments against him!!! It's very clear that this man not only have crazy views about rape and rapists, he does not believe in free speech either!!
Murdock said what millions believe – babies are a gift from God.
I don't think most people believe babies from a violent, forceful, and soul shattering experience are a gift from God..
Do you people see what you are going to get with the current individuals running for Republican President and VP? People like this MORON in Washington. Do you REALLY want this kind of government. Gotta tell you, sure sounds like women are going to be driven back into the 1800's with these men running. And, dare I say it, this is the kind of argument those indulging in ethnic cleansing would use.
Somebody ought to slap this guy's mother for not having an abortion.
I guess that means that if a serial killer murders his family that this is God's will and this person should be rewarded at the Pearly Gates for doing "God's work." What is this man thinking? Has anyone looked into his background to see if he is a rapist and thinks he is doing God's work?
People are you nuts. Romney still supports this fanatic. This is from the Wash Post
“Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock, and Mr. Mourdock’s comments do not reflect Gov. Romney’s views,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “We disagree on the policy regarding exceptions for rape and incest but still support him.”
This man is an ass and I am ashamed to have to admit that I live in Indiana. Fortunately, I am a Registered Democrat.
Nice how my comments are constantly "awaiting moderation" but pro-abortion sycophants can publish whatever they want. The only "good" that has come out of abortion is since most of them are performed on Democrat women there's 40M less Democrat voters. Abortion IS the war on woman. The most unsafe place for a woman in the world is in her mother's womb at a Planned Parenthood Clinic.
i guess it will take some time to hear what MR has to say about this. He cares too much about the polls than women to respond right now.
And the Republican war on women (and gays, and blacks, and hispanics, and the poor, and the middle class, and atheists, and intellectuals, and students, and Muslims, and the environment, and religion, and unions, and Native Americans, and....) continues.
These extreme right wing, religious fanatic, Conservative, Republican, hypocritical, anti-choice whack jobs are so opposed to abortion because they know that if their mothers could go back and do it all over again, they would have aborted these losers. They're always trying to force their deviant views and lifestyle on the rest of us normal people. They love telling other people how to live their lives, while their own lives are complete disasters. So here's the solution to your mental disorder: if you don't like abortion, don't have one. Otherwise keep your mouths shut and don't try to tell another woman what she can and can't do with her own body. Problem solved.
Go ahead ladies – vote Republican. Then you better pray that you don't get raped. I'm not religious, and I'm not anti-religion. But praying you don't get raped in a country that will then force you to keep a baby as a result of said rape (if there is a Republican president) is a gamble I would NEVER take. And, I know not all Republicans feel this way – but you're lovely Republican candidate ENDORSES THIS BS!!! Good luck.
You can bet that once the 15th century minds in Indiana vote him into the Senate he will take that as a sign from God that he must teach us this "right" way of thinking.
You cant make this stuff up!!!! These repubs are crazy!!!!
But, didn't god create the rapist? Then rape is the will of god. Hail jebus!
Hey Chuck...You sir, are absolutely correct. My family cannot understand that.