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. Emily

    I was raped repeatedly by my father between the ages of 13-18. After every time, I'd hold my breath and hope that I'd get my period. NO WOMAN should ever have to hold her breath and pray that she doesn't get pregnant. Rape is a soul-killing, horrific act that cannot be described with the adjectives we have. The experience of that helplessness, that guilt, that fear is something I'm still dealing with today, in the form of PTSD. Telling me that, if I had gotten pregnant, that the baby would have been a gift from God goes against everything I believe in. I'm still grappling with the feelings of how a loving God could allow this to happen, and I think having to have dealt with being pregnant with my father's child (and the decision to either keep or abort, which is a horrific decision in-and-of itself) would have shattered my faith completely.

    If you are a man (excepting those who have been raped themselves), you can NEVER EVER know what it's like to not only be raped, but to then hold your breath waiting to see if that violent act will create a child. NO ONE should try to hold the moral high ground and judge someone who has to deal with this horrible situation. Why don't they try to be more like Christ and be compassionate and attempt to understand it from the side of the victim?

    October 24, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. Moderate

    Mitt Romney supports penalties for doctors who perform an abortion.

    October 24, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Tennis Nirvana

    which god is he even talking about? not mine.

    i doubt she agrees with him at all on this topic

    October 24, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Moderate

    Mitt Romney wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

    October 24, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Kate

    Guys like this are what can i say- just scary as all hell! I wish I could say he was mentally ill but that would be too kind .

    October 24, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. sftommy

    First Missouri and now Indiana; GOP is fast becoming the PRO-RAPE Party

    October 24, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Laura

    nuts: you can't be a republican and vote republican because this is what you vote for: "Richard and I, along with millions of Americans – including even Joe Donnelly – believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous," Cornyn he said in a statement. Who is irresponsible, who is he trying to throw this back on, the liberal media? hmmmm

    October 24, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Barry McCleskey

    A loosing issue to spin all morning. It's the economy, my J-school Uebermenschen!

    October 24, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Laura

    being a republican for economic reasons is an oxymoron...

    October 24, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. allenwoll

    emm - You say,

    " Being a woman who is a die-hard Republican for economic reasons. . . . "

    THIS part of your comment clearly shows that you do NOT actually UNDERSTAND the mechanisms of a civilized consumer economy, but have simply been brainwashed by others with an agenda which happens to operate AGAINST your OWN personal economic interests - That is, UNLESS you are part of the upper 6%.or so. . The Tea / GoPer / Kons have done an exceeedlingly clever job at setting up convenient brainwashes everywhere to snare folks into their convoluted erroneous thinking processes ! ! !

    October 24, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. jboHDrider

    Emm-I wish that were true but it's not. This is the voice of your party as it has been overrun by the religios right and the teaOPers. Mittens is after control of womens rights and he is now acting "moderate".

    October 24, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. jamami

    God can never Sin and God can never initiate Sin.

    Jam 1:13-15 "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

    But he might use the sinful intentions and actions of man for good of His chosen, like he did with Joseph.Just because good came out of the sinful action, doesn't mean, man is not responsible for his sin.

    Gen 45:4-8 "And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be eating nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."

    October 24, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. Expat American

    This coming from a Republican should not come as a shock to anyone....the big tent party welcomes these kinds of people with open arms.

    October 24, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. armyav8r

    "ALL MEN/WOMEN ARE CREATED EQUAL" ..."creation" starts when? When egg meets sperm. Period. All else is CONVENIENT deferrals, interpretations, and cover ups for what it is...murder. The UNBORN CHILD is going to PAY THE PRICE for the actions of a RAPIST !??? Are you kidding me? Who is speaking on behalf of the CHILD?

    October 24, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Dale angell

    So when the democrats keep control of the senate, that will be God's will too.

    October 24, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. PunchInTheFace

    Republicans just need to shut up until the election is over. Seriously. It's almost comical how hard they're trying to self-destruct at this point.

    October 24, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Loretta Manning

    Thi isn't that important. From the way it reads and looks on TV, CNN is making this a political issue for the elections. Well, Romney is the most pro abortion Republican for President in quite a long time. The hysteria over Romney being an extremist is ridiculous–a Mass. governor??? I suppose you could include a photo of a coathanger.

    October 24, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. James Mason

    Here it is American Women! YOUR REPUBLICAN PARTY! Redefining an act of violence and power as a gift from God!

    October 24, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. SAi

    How can god not intending rape to happen, allow it to happen anyway? Was he powerless? Did he have the power to prevent it but choose not to? Did he have some other intentions that supersede his distaste of rape? If any case is true, what kind of god is he anyway; a cruel one, a wimpy one, an uncaring one? Whatever the case, the cognitive dissonance, and injustice behind these "god does not intend" statements are insane. Even if babies are indeed god's gift, they are certainly not conceived equally, given that fertilization does not take into account in what manner the sperm reaches the egg. So a loving couple who conceive a baby receive as much love from god as the victims of rape? What kind of insanity is that?

    October 24, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. Chuck Belcher

    It's idiots like this that keep me from considering myself Republican. While I tend to agree with them on economic and defense issues, their backward thinking on women's issues and gay rights make me think twice before voting for anyone with an (R) beside their name.

    October 24, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  21. Sam

    Best line I heard today:

    Mitt Romney is pro life except in cases of rape, incest, health of the mother, and running for the governor of Massachusetts.

    October 24, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. David

    Looks like his point is getting miscontrued. His comment wasn't really about rape; it was about pregnancy as a result of this heinous crime. What do you suppose is going though the minds of those living souls that were born as a result of this crime? I'll bet there are plenty of these good people that are pleased to be with us.

    October 24, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    When a women chooses an abortion, that is also what God intended.

    October 24, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. joe800

    Forcing a woman to bear a child from a Rape is better than voting democratic?..brought to you by your friendly neighborhood female GOP... wth

    October 24, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. Lee

    This just shows you how confused the religious right really has become. Their politics drive their understanding of their religion. Do you really want people like this using their confused belief systems to set public policy?

    October 24, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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