October 24th, 2012
01:15 PM ET
10 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. Eddie

    THIS is the republican party, folks!

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  2. CJG

    Where do these idiots come from , I certainly hope he is not relected!

    People have free will , God does not allow rape anymore than he wants people to murder !

    Women are you listening to these men and where they want to take this country. Go to the polls and vote a democratic ticket , to make sure these backward and dangerous men cannot control this country!

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  3. Susan

    God help me, all the nut jobs have the label of Republican. God's will? Really? You know this as a fact?

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  4. meredith

    and women are supporting these politicians...why? they don't care about you or your health or your well-being, only about that 2 celled organism that has the POTENTIAL to become a viable human. so what about the organisms that are ALREADY viable humans? oh, they DON'T care about those.

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  5. SteveW

    Wow. Dude just lost the election.

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  6. FredInIT

    And these three knuckledraggers, Mourdock, Walsh, Akin are what the GOP is fielding?

    Yes, Mr. Lincoln?
    You want your party back?
    I'm sorry, you will have to contact the Democrats.
    Why? Your party has been overrun by right-wing fundamental extremists.
    What? Yes – they have the same religious convictions as 'bin Laden.
    Sure, I can get you Mr. Carter and Mr. Clinton's phone number.
    I agree – they both understand that you can be both a good Statesman and President and highly religious.

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  7. Republican Class Warfare

    So it's God's will, not the rapist's? Or is the rapist God?

    When you realize that there's no such thing as God, there is nothing in the world more ridiculous than this. Sorry ladies, God wanted you to get raped, be pregnant for nine months and then raise that kid on your own (of course with no government assistance). In the free market, there are winners and losers.

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  8. Rozeller

    Mourdock is consistent. IF one believes that life begins at conception and that the life that begins at conception is fully human, then it is murder to deliberately end that life regardless of how the life was begun. He cannot be blamed for being honest about his beliefs. You may call him many things, but you CANNOT call him a hypocrite. Ethically, IF you believe this way, then the only excuse for abortion would be to save the life (not health) of the mother. This is not a convenient belief, nor would it qualify as "caring" – unless one realizes that the highest concept of morality prevents the life of an innocent baby from being sacrificed. And that is truly what he believes.

    October 23, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  9. NameJS

    This Tea Party nutjob terrifies me. What a pathetic candidate. Alas, he seems to represent much of the GOP.

    October 23, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  10. Joe Stevens

    You really shouldn't end the article with such horrid misinformation. The death rate for women due to complications of pregnancy is actually on the rise in America- and it was already a very high death rate.

    To just read the last paragraph might give people the impression that Walsh's dangerously ignorant statement has any fact behind it.

    October 23, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  11. Demetric Harris

    If republicans are so against regulations and "wanna get out of Americans life" why are they so eager to tell women what they can r can't do with there own body, and the fact that a Senator would use his own beliefs to dictate to others whom may not have the same beliefs is appalling!!!!

    October 23, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  12. Chicken

    Not sure why this is controversial, most Republicans believe this and it is the correct belief

    October 23, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  13. Eric

    Vote for whomever you want in the Presidential race, but please keep these nut jobs out of congress!

    October 23, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  14. Evolve

    how can such dangerously insane people be in contention for any kind of power?

    October 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  15. John Bunyan

    For someone to say that "all humans conceived by way of rape ISN'T God's will" is to say that those people are not created by God. God gives live to every human being on planet Earth.

    This is some very deep theology. Your dealing with a clash between God's revealed will in scripture and his ordained will. He ordains all that is to be. If I were to be murdered tomorrow, it would have been God's will that I be murdered (because he planned it before the beginning of time). But my murderer is still responsible for his/her actions and thus would be punished by God unless they accepted Christ.

    October 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  16. Michael Wilson

    Well, this makes up my mind. I wouldn't vote for a Republican now for any reason. They are all apparently completely stupid. Romney and Ryan look pretty good in many ways, but not after Akin, this guy and others. Sorry, Mitt, you almost had me.

    October 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  17. liz48

    The forgiveness of the divine is the foundation of the teachings of The Lord, christians claim to follow.
    In that forgiveness in the heart of a believer, there is a Peace and an understanding that surpasses human logic and reasoning.

    Yes, I denounce with every fiber of my being rape and/or incest, but I can view the child with love through the eyes of the Lord of the Bible. I can do the same for the rapist who was led by spirits of darkness to destroy what G-d has created to be beautiful, pleasant and peaceful.

    To accept this as true, one has to be in The Father and His Heart...nothing special; just the choice of choosing to live for G-d.

    Every human being was created to walk in the love and compassion of G-d. When they do not, they are acting under the pressure and oppression of spirits of deception.

    October 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  18. dentate

    I mean this guy must have been away for most of his life... How about someone rapes him and see what he says after

    October 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  19. Eric

    Vote for whomever you want in the Presidential race, but please keep these people out of congress!

    October 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  20. mgrgurich

    Liberals do not make them look unreasonable. Being unreasonable makes them look unreasonable

    October 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  21. John Cleary


    October 23, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  22. patrick harris

    Anyone who believes this is sick As an atheist, I believe this is just complete and utter nonsense and one of the biggest problems we face as a society, if not the biggest- RELIGION!!

    Come on, grow up, the fairy tale is over.

    October 23, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  23. lucianne


    October 23, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  24. Jameswattsteamengine

    What is WRONG with these lunatics?...... Seriously, what is going on with these prehistoric Men with their utterly Neanderthal opinions.... Republicans, if you lose this election, blame it on these crackpots and their total disregard for decency, humanity, logic and compassion. Seriously, SERIOUSLY deranged, like Akin.

    October 23, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  25. sour lemons

    Well then... let's open those jail doors because those men were doing God's work. Idiot.

    October 23, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
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