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. MyshJ

    It amazes me, and I guess I really shouldn't be surprised anymore, that so many people are willing to read a headline, read a quote out of its context, finalize an opinion on someone, and then set forth on violent attacks upon that persons character. When asked to clarify what he meant, Mr. Mourdock provided an explanation that was not far-fetched at all. This incident speaks more to the motives of those who attacked Mr. Mourdock than it does to what he said.

    October 24, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Hooper

    It is quite scary that not only do we have clueless people like this running for office, but they actually have supporters!!

    October 24, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. camama

    Welcome to the American Taliban...it's just a woman's body, not really something we need to be concerned about.

    October 24, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. JonathanL

    These guys are taking control of the GOP too, which has a very short memory because they are mentally challenged. Sorry. I am 60 and as well educated and well off as I am, I still can't bring myself to vote republican. At least with Obama I know what I am getting, and of the few things I know about what I will get from romney (such as he wants to repeal Row V Wade, is a mormon and they believe women should stay at home) but otherwise he is shfty and readily disavows things he actually said. I can't believe how he can talk out of both sides of his mouth. Disgusting. The only thing he has offered that I would like is the elimination of dividend and cap gains taxes on those making under 200K. But then after elected he might change that stance to those making under 200 million. He is much more a politician than Obama, and guess what you can't trust. I get the feeling that Obama believes what he says, but Willard Mitt Romney seems to say whatever he thinks will help him get elected, depending on where and when he is talking. The republican party has a couple, but only a couple of plaftorms I would go along with in principal but they neven seem to mean what they say. In fact, they have become a weaker political force over the years, and have become hypocritical as they desperately try to appeal to moderates, independants, while also trying to retain their conservative (another word for "radical extremist religio-right winger") faction. Voting Democratic again.

    October 24, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. monja16y12mil

    I certainly do hope that, 'God's will,' will allow the Children of the Woodstock Generation, who voted in 2008, to kick the Tea Party and the rest of those (so-called) religious right-wingers back to the fringes where they belong...or off the side of that cliff-edge, if possible!

    October 24, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. talbet

    Romney won't remove the ads and still endorses this guy.

    October 24, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. G

    Wow. This guy is out of touch with the 21st century - and so are the people electing him.

    October 24, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Lisa

    Here's the thing. According to Christians, God gave us free will, along with the knowledge that we will have to face the consequences of our choices in the hereafter. Making abortion illegal will not stop women from making that choice. Women got abortions before Roe vs. Wade, and they will continue to do so, even if Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned. To keep a woman from exercising her God-given right to choose (that is, her free will) is to put yourself in God's place. Guess what? He doesn't need your help to sort out the sinners from the saints. He's God. He's got this. If you believe abortion is murder, then why don't you also believe that God will punish those who choose that sin, just like He will punish ALL sinners, no matter what their transgression?

    October 24, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. dallas123

    These are true facts & faces of GOP. At times few like these burst out & tell the really truth that Republicans believe & support. How are Republicans different from those Muslim countries where Raped women get punished than the monster who raped her. Republicans wants to drag us to dark ages.

    October 24, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. JKnight

    @emm "I still will never EVER EVER vote Democratic, though. I believe that's WORSE."

    And this is part of the problem with our country, thinking you have to choose a side and stick with them no matter what. To say that all Republicans or all Democrats are bad and never worth voting for is a giant blanket of ignorance. I've voted both Republican and Democrat in the past. Toss aside political party tags and stereotypes. Use your brain to vote for the best choice of the entire country and not just what political party they belong to. To say you wouldn't vote for someone because they are Democrat or Republican is no different than voting for a President because of the color of their skin.

    October 24, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. Eric S

    Under what rock does the GOP find these candidates? Are they getting suggestions from the Taliban? Amazing.

    October 24, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. Kianasmum

    God's will was to give women a voice! God's will was to give women the ability to scream, cry, and say NO!! For a man to ignore the will of GOD for his own selfish violent acions is not the will of GOD! A pregnacy is the result of being raped during the time ovulation occured and nothing more. That's science and not the will of GOD!

    October 24, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. Carmen Dandridge

    For those who don't know God the Creator, the original comment just doesn't make sense. It's OK, deceived people wouldn't know BIBLICAL TRUTH even it came up and introduced itself.

    For those who have revealed knowledge of God the Creator, they know that all life is ordained by God regardless of how that life was conceived...which includes rape.

    Get into the Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God's truth to you, so you can come out of the kingdom of darkness into His Kingdom of Light.

    October 24, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. gladiatorgrl


    Just a reminder: It was a conservative Supreme Court that passed Roe v. Wade.
    much to Reagan's chagrin ...

    Wonder why with all that tax exempt televangelist money, all that tax exempt church money, all that Koch Bros money no one one the right in 30 + years ever brought a case to overturn it. Begs the ? is the rhetoric just to inflame the base or they trying to get "true" conservatives on the bench. Roberts seems to have dissappointed them also but he did throw them a bone with it's tax in the healthcare ruling

    October 24, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. Funhouse

    That is not what he said. Not that I agree with what he said and how he said it. He did not say rape was God's will. Come on for once report it correctly.

    October 24, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Suzanne

    Republican = PRO-RAPE!

    October 24, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Praveen

    What kind of a twisted mind would come up with a thing like that? Even from the politicians from third world countries would shudder before saying something like that.

    October 24, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. New Orleans

    God does not condone sin..... How can he condone a life as a result of sin????

    October 24, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. janis rich-smith

    he is so wrong

    October 24, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. keeeleee

    Wow, another comment that's been twisted and used for hatred.

    October 24, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. gladiatorgrl

    I just love when they're all a gift from God until it's time to kill 'em in a Holy War or in the electric chair.

    October 24, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. John Bunyan

    Welcome to Christianity guys.

    Either your going to say what this guy says about rape, or your going to be left saying that a portion of the human population was NOT created by God and therefore goes against God's will. Take your pick. You can't have Christ and not have the tough stuff that goes with it.

    October 24, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Youie

    Any woman who votes Republican this year is messed in the head.

    October 24, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Sarah

    Maybe safe abortion and easily available birth control and successful prosecution of rapists are God's will, sir. Maybe the Roe vs. Wade victory was God's will.

    Oh, puleaze!

    Are all the other things that happen in the world God's will, too? Like Nazi concentration camps and the Atlantic passage and the burning of women and the extermination of Indian tribes and pandemic disease and the Cretaceous extinctions? What the hell kind of God do you worship?

    Heaven help us.

    October 24, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Reality Checker

    Remove the crazy Obstructionist Party in 2012!

    What kind of idiots believe this type of insane thinking?

    October 24, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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