(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.
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
"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.
Also on the CNN Political Ticker
- GOP Senate candidate accuses Dems of distorting his rape comments
- Clint Eastwood returns, stars in new super PAC ad
- Obama ad uses ghost of recount past
- Romney campaign and allies far outspending Democrats
How would all these liberal phrase twisters respond to an individual who was the product of a rape? Would they tell him or her that they should have been aborted. Thats about how much sense this administration's desparate attempts to micharacterize any conservative's views makes. What a bunch of self serving petty and obvious manipulators. Please throw them out of Washington!
So in trying to apologize and clarify the dude repeats that if a woman is raped and becomes pregnant it was what God intended and thinks this clarification makes it better? Wow! What God intended, as I interpret, is that humans have free will and this means God leaves it all up to us. He does not guide, he does not make things happen...he placed us here, gave us our instructions and allows us to make our decisions. We then answer to him at the moment of our death. There is no devine intervention...ever. God did not intend for a woman to be raped, He did not intend for a woman to become pregnant. Blaming God for such horrible things is ridiculous, humans choose to do horrible things to one another.
God intends for a macaque monkey to rip this guy's ears off and eat them. He told me so in a revelation just now. It will be His Will.
Although I know Richard Mourdock is male, I intend to rape him until he becomes pregnant. His soul is mine, and so is his cute behind... for all eternity.
As a mother of four teen daughters, this creep scares me and I thought Romney and Ryan were bad enough! For any female voter that takes her body for granted. I strongly suggest you realize that we are in an extremely vulnerable position if we allow this type of mentality anywhere near the White House! I know Romney and Ryan claim to support abortion when it comes to the life of the mother, rape amd incest but you truly need to think about this. Does it mean that a female who was raped or molested have to wait for a criminal conviction prior to being permitted to have an abortion? How long would the case take to go to trial? For all we know the victim might have delivered the baby by then or it would be too late in her pregnancy to discontinue the pregnancy. Basically, I find Romney and Ryan's reassurances a sham and for the life of the mother? How much red-tape would need to be cut to save the life of the mother? Oh and bouncing back to rape and incest. How many false claims of rape and incest would be made by women who cry-wolf? How many of these men would be wrongfully convicted? Not that all men are innocent! Oh and if a guilty man was found innocent? Would that mean the victim would be forced to deliver her rapist's baby? I haven't even started about 'coat-hanger' abortions that too many females would die from.
Another comment that's been twisted and used for hatred?
The comment IS HATE! That comment can't be twisted, it already is, it can only be straightened out.
Proof of that? How about rescinding funding for pregnant women and children? Life is only sacred until it is born. After that, Muordock and his ilk will take great delight in pointing out to that child that it is a product of sin, and its mother was immoral, and that it deserves nothing but a life of accepting someone else's handouts, and how it ought to be ashamed of that, because good people make it by themselves with no help.
Apparently some Gophers (e,g., Romney, Ayotte, Pence) have also "twisted" the words of this would-be theocrat.
"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. What a freakin idiot, anyone who supports statements like this should be ashamed of themselves. Rape is hatred and no woman should be told how to handle it or the result from it. This man and his supporters make me sick. By the way, THERE IS NO GOD. Believe in science, its real and never will it judge someone.
The whole problem originates with the idea of bringing "god" into politics. Religion and moral issues are not the business of politicians. Leave it in church.
Let me see if I have this right. Rape is a tool used by a loving god to test a woman's faith in him and to see if she values life.
Republicans don't think rape is bad because THEY ARE CONSTANTLY RAPING THIS COUNTRY!!!!!!!!
We are all gifts from god... Unless you ain't White and Christian, of course.
Bunch of crazy religious wackos come on guys God wants this God wants that get a life there is no God All invention of man Wake up or you will become like the fanatics overseas
Women should get together and decide to vote........you absolutely do not need to return to the 16th Century treatment of women..........this comment like Akin's is unforgivable
Bwahahahaha ! Typical Repug response. Get caught and then change the story. Have a little back-bone you whiners.
Republican candidates might consider not speaking about rape, abortion, and contraception. They're not good at it.
FILTH BAG! I'm a conservative Christian, but this excrement vessel does NOT represent conservatives OR Christians.
I find it interesting that when the press repeats verbatim what a Republican says, they consider it a distortion.
His comments trying to get out of what he clearly and unambiguously said are HYSTERICAL! He is truly a sick lil MAROON!
hoeel hooisers, i love the rich history of your state and its peoples but please vote against this nut,
in evil countries mourdock, missouri's akin and ryan would be leaders. in our country they are trash.
To all the GOPs crying foul:
You would JUMP on a Democrat exactly the same way they are jumping on this idiot, so save your self-righteousness.
All Americans suck
This is the worst election that I can remember and the Republcans at their worst. This is the reason that I don't vote for them anymore. It's quiet obvious that they all think like that. They have become a party of deparados, they lie with straight faces. They have no shame and I can't understand why any women would want to vote foe them.
Why are republicans so obsessed with the God? If they actually read the bible they would know that Jesus would be a democrat. I guarantee you if that was the case you wouldn't hear a single Repug say the word GOD ever again.
Richard Mourdock is an ASS! He, amont a lot of other GOP members, are part of the anti-christ many many tenticles. When some of these so called leaders realize that the birth of a child is when the child is out of the mother's womb. Until that moment, it is still a fetus! And God doesn't condone rape, in any form.