(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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Does this mean that if Mourdock gets elected, he will push to reduce the punishments for those convicted of rape, because the accused should not be held responsible and God should shoulder the blame?
Why is it that whenever republicans fight against something and lose, they do everything they can to undermine the person, policy, law, etc?
Look at healthcare. They lost. They took it to the highest court and lost again. Think they would get over it? Not a chance. Obama won the white house. Republicans did everything they could to stop anything he thought of doing.
Abortion. We had this argument years ago. Republicans had let it go for the most part. But tea folk, with their new found fire in politics have sparked it up again. They are passing legislation that is being shot down by the courts left and right. They scream about forcing people to get healthcare, yet have no problem forcing women to get ultrasounds. It's almost an all out blitz on abortion.
Of course, they will say liberals are just trying to duck "important" issues. Well, with all the legislation floating around, Romney stating he would nominate Roe vs. Wade crushing SC judges, with Paul Ryan and Todd Akin having a shot and making laws, I'd say it's a bit more than a distraction.
CNN shouldn't the release of Bengahzi emails to white house be front page on politics, not buried?
This is how religion is hurting people. When somebody who gets in a position of authority uses their religious beliefs to take away the rights of people. Religion can do good in the world but this story is clearly the other end of that spectrum. All I can do is hope that most mainstream religious people have enough sense to disagree with this guy.
This is want the Rep believes and Ryan was the main devil to support. So look out people when you are for Romney and Ryan because they do have a plan........this is just a warning how things will be like if Romney and Romney are in the white house look out people.
romney is such a liar! he is not a real man. A man that can't stand by anything he says is a chicken.Painfully he is doing a good job at it because the American people are falling for his lies and misleading flip flop
If Pregnancy from Rape is "God's Will", you might want to get yourself another God, or try Atheism. All Religions seem to love this "God's Will" crap and it's really getting old.
So does that mean women who can't conceive don't deserve to? God is not a sperm cell. Sure birth is a wonderful miraculous thing but God doesn't control it. He created our ability to reproduce along with the rest of the universe and all it's wonders. It's up to us to prove to God that we can manage this responsibility in a civilized way. Rape is uncivilized. It is immoral and wrong. Babies should be the product of a loving relationship. Wasn't too long ago children out of wedlock were shunned. Didn't make them not human or not loved by God. Bottom line is it's up to the mother and her family to decide whether to keep a child who was conceived via rape.
I can see it now. Rapist pleading not guilty because they where doing gods work. Oh but wait. What if she was raped by a non christian? Then it would be a different invisible man's work. Crap how does that work? Let us pray.
Another joins the GOP circle jerk. So sad.
Did the US abolish castration?this guy should not ever have offspring.
Support Infanticide – Vote Democrat
This is where religion is a detriment to society. We have people in positions of power that actually believe that a being from another world or dimension puppeteers the events on this world. That's dangerous thought when applied literally.
Interesting. If a man were to be raped by another man and the result was partial or complete removal of a cancerous tumor from the prostate, would that also be a gift from god?
Crazy people are going to vote. Where is the GOP contempt?
This country wasn't founded on atheist's ideals. Follow how things are or suffer the consequences.
Welcome back to the 13th century. Men would have incredibly different views about abortion if they could get pregnant. We'd live in a very different world.
I want to know, if this guy has any daughters.. So I can test his theory with a "clinical trial study". :-p
Rob wrote: As I understand the GOP position: The government may not mandate purchase of insurance for health care, but can mandate when a woman may not have health care!
I agree, but let's be clear too that the GOP does NOT oppose the government mandating the purchase of insurance for health care – in fact, Romney's history shows he clearly supports it, as did many Republicans at one time. They just didn't support it if it was likely to be a feather in Obama's cap. Let's have a contest to see how many Democratic policy proposals over the past four years, previously supported by Republicans, were really opposed by Republicans for that reason alone!
Why are rapists being put in prison?!?!?! Why is the government being allowed to oppress religious freedoms?
Isn't everything godswill (including "free will', which god GAVE you and whom is supposedly OMNISCIENT, so it it still godswill)? I guess everything should be legal/permissible, then. Poor Ivan Karamazov, who thought it was the other way around.
Since heart attacks are a gift from god, and death from heart attacks is also a gift from god, if Mourdock ever has a heart attack I don't think we should give him any medical help nor take him to the hospital, as this would be going against god's will. What's wrong Mourdock, don't like some of your own medicine?
I try real hard to be as open minded as I can with politics but it is becoming increasingly clear that Repugs should be fought and removed from office as fast as humanly possible. They sound seriously brain damaged.
I guess he believes that every event is gods will. In that case, let's open all the prison doors since it was not their will that promulgated the crimes.
Another prime example why more people are turning away from Chrisianity or organized religion in general. This man is just another tool allowed to speak in public. If he gets more than one vote it's a sin.