(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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Keep talking, Mourdick ...
It is horrifying that people like Mourdock are actually in positions to be crafting legislation that affects our families. Vote to get rid of these idiots once and for all!!!
He obviously wasn't saying "rape" was Gods will. He was saying the "pregnancy that resulted from the rape" was Gods will. Disgusting and completely backwards comment anyway but people who are trying to twist his words into somehow supporting the act of rape are just as disgusting and backwards. Whoever votes for this guy is a real idiot.
I wonder if I've lost my faith in religion and humanity
As the adoptive father of a beautiful daughter, 5, I would not want the government to ever force her to carry a child to full-term if she ever suffered from rape. However, we are so thankful she is alive today because her birth mother, who said she was raped, chose to carry our little girl to full-term and then allowed her to be adopted by us. It must have been so painfully hard, but we are thankful to God each day that our daughter was not chosen to be killed because of her birth father's terrible assault. Our daughter was not forced to be the scapegoat. Her life is not a mistake, and she is a blessing.
Mr. Murdock should explain, "Who is to pay for the pregnancy and birth?" "What about after the birth?" Is the rapist responsible for supporting and raising the child. Is the state responsible? Is the woman forever responsible for the product of her rape? Has God given Mr. Murdock the answer to these and similar questions and problems? I will skip the many other questions that open interpretations of religion give rise. (Such as divorce and state executions.)
.........Woew,..........does this mean that Mourdock will make his wife and daughters carry to delivery ALL rape babies that would kill the mom?..............................
Coming to a courtroom soon: "The defendant should not be found guilty of r@pe because it resulted in a pregnancy and thus he was doing gods work". Absurd and pathetic.
If there is a God, She/He does not promote rape as a way of creating life.
More craziness from a Republican.
Kick him out of office.
End silly religion NOW!! Comic books are more rational!!! With that, I'm sure he will win his election!
If republicans truly wanted to "beat Obama" as they said they wouldve nominated Ron Paul whodve thrashed Obama in the debates
But Republicans and Democrats are afraid of Ron Paul because he wants to crack down on his bankster buddies and End the Fed
As a Christian, I'm appalled by the words that came out of his mouth. The Republicans should not represent people like this, and distance themselves from him, as this is not what they should represent. God does not intend rape, only a psychotic fool would even suggest such a thing.
I'm ashamed to call him a fellow Christian.
If it is Gods will then God never intended anyone to be raped in the first place. This guy is nuts and beyond pathetic
Emm, if you're still voting Republican, maybe you're still a low information voter.
gop has raped the US and need to be aborted
Interesting. If a man is ra ped by another man and, as a result, all or part of a cancerous tumor is removed from his prostate, is that also god's will?
What concerns me most about the US electorate is how they can give any credibility to the likes of Mourdock, Coulter, etc.
What appeal these morons have is beyond my ability to comprehend. To think that people actually listen, agree and vote with any of these cretons never ceases to amaze me.
How does Mourdock have the audacity to think he knows what some god wants. If god wanted a women to be raped and become pregnant then count me out of any religion that thinks in that manner. Ignorance is not bliss. It's dangerous.
So God did not intend for the rape to happen but he did intend the pregnancy? What a politician!
Well if life is a gift from god, so is death, because it is all god's creation. Therefore when serial killers exist, wars , murder, suicide, etc.... This is the will of god............
The ASSumption that "your" god is the right god.
If your an atheist does this "theory" still apply?
How can any sane woman still vote Republican?
As a Christian, I'm appalled by the words that came out of his mouth. The Republicans should not represent people like this, and distance themselves from him, as this is not what they should represent. God does not intend rape, only a psychotic person would even suggest such a thing.
What an odd thought. I suppose if he was gang raped up his kazoo after getting into the wrong limo, he would be thankful and rest assured that it was all planned and orchestrated by God. He is probably someone who dismisses these contradictions by saying "God works in strange ways".
The reason a woman gets raped has nothen to do with God.-- This is the will of the man who committs the crime
.--- A person that does this is without God.-- If god is not with you and in you then man stands alone.-- And when faced with evil temptations alone is not good.!
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain? Which commandment was that Senator?