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. Name

    He said pregnancy from rape is God's will when it happens. He basically said that getting pregnant by you rapist is a positive. It's disgusting whatever way the religious extremists want to phrase it.

    October 24, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  2. cog in the wheel

    "It's God's Will" is the same motto we hear from radical Muslims:

    "If it's God's Will, my car bomb will kill many innocent victims....."
    "If its God's will, the 15-year old woman shot for going to school will perish..."
    "If its God's Will, raped woman will become pregnant despite their own desires..."

    Baloney. A woman has the right to determine what happens with her own body.

    If these right-wing conservatives want to believe in Divine intervention, surely their all-powerful, omni-present God can spontaneously create a fertilized egg without involving an innocent woman's womb. "if its God's will."

    October 24, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Next up from the Teatrolls:

    Rape babies = "silver lining"

    October 24, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. Lionel

    war on women is real

    October 24, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. 13 days until Obama is RE-ELECTED!! Deal with it GOP trolls...

    @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.
    Perhaps you should apply that same rule-of-thumb to ALL of the GOP candidates – and right wing nuts posting here – that have done EXACTLY that to the POTUS. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Fair's fair and all that.

    October 24, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Yakee don't don't

    Republicans are Pro Rape. That's why they have been constantly raping this country since they existed

    October 24, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. Danny

    The Republican party core believes are similar to a rapist that will sue or accuse their victims for hurting them in the process for fighting back. Simple and Plain. I am to the point where I don't want to know any Republicans or who vote for them. I willing to lose friends that believe in their believes. That's where we are today.

    October 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. jenner

    A "gift" until it happens to a female relative. I'm sorry, who would want a child produced from rape? Regardless of whether a person is pro-life or pro-choice and how they determine the outcome of such a pregnancy...I bet very few women on this planet would choose to have a daily, constant, reminder of a traumatic experience.

    October 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Truthseeker

    You notice that it's not Republican women who are saying these things, that there are NO Republican women saying these things? The logic boggles the mind...does it mean if my body is attacked by a virus or, say, a staph infection, that God intends for those cute little germs to grow in me and it would be against God's will to stop them? What about crabgrass? If my town floods, should I leave it like that because God willed it? If a child is raped, is that God's will that an 11-year-old should bear a child? If God is all-powerful and everywhere, perhaps the way the world really works is far more complex than human minds can understand, and if God is love, He most certainly could not want to afflict an assaulted woman further. And we're looking at a Presidential candidates whose religion dictate that men decide whether their wives will be resurrected after death, who believes he will have his own planet when he dies, and whose founder said men live on the sun and moon??? I believe in religious freedom but am frightened of these zealots who have beliefs that are so demeaning to women and so far from what science has shown to be true. God help us!

    October 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. Doug

    Where does the Devil come in here???? What if rape is the work of the Devil? I have been raised to believe the Devil causes these very bad things to happen. Seems to me rape is the Devil's doing and a pregnancy from the Devil's work would be the Devils baby.
    Think of a12 year old girl who has been raped and resulted in a pregnancy. You are a very sick person to think God had ANYTHING to do with it. ESPECIALLY THE PREGNANCY!!!!!!!
    I get very sick of these people who spin everything to fit their own philosophy.
    This guy needs to be on the Congressional Science Committee like the other GOP idiots that have already spoken on these topics and had to apologize after. They know zero percent of what they are talking about.

    October 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. SaySome

    He is on God's side against women. He is on God's side against all crime victims.

    October 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Pi Boson

    This is another representative comment of how the GOP views females as low-cast people in our society. The GOP does not condemn the statement, rather the person misspoke. That is the real tragedy. The GOP wants smaller, more expensive and much more intrusive goverment. Violating a women's choice and free-will is a very sad state in America.

    October 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |

    I guess the GOP members whom distance themselves from that comment are distorting the statement also.

    October 24, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  14. Marika

    Western World Christian Taliban!

    October 24, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. Babs

    @ funhouse (above)...pregnancies from rape are "something that God intended to happen,"
    learn to read.

    October 24, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. Mark

    You distorted jerk. We all listens and read what you said. There are no distortions, Its the real facts for a women hater Mourdock.

    October 24, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Gary


    October 24, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Voter

    Obama = Epic Fail

    October 24, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. marie

    He did say it. Here's the quote: "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," Even though I strongly disagree with his beliefs, it's clear that he does not support rape or rapists. However he should stick by what he believes and Romney should stick by what he claims he believes. Both are reflected in the quote.

    October 24, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. Reasonably

    "I spoke from my heart; I spoke with my principle; I spoke from my faith..." then you sir, are not worth of your office, because if you cannot filter your faith and heart from your words and actions you are not worthy of leadership. So, if your wife is raped you'll be truly stoked to raise that child knowing your god just handed you a gift?!

    October 24, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  21. Bill

    Republicans should stop talking about rape and abortion and start talking about whether they believe that Romney's economic policies are any different from George W. Bush's economic policies. If Republicans go back to the same Bush-era economic policies that bankrupted our country in the first place how will our economy get better?

    October 24, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Rufus T. Firefly

    I suggest that Mourdock's heart disease is God's will, and he should not be allowed to take heart medication.

    October 24, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. Kat

    Well, if that is the case than I suppose it also stands true that if Mr. Mourdock is shot or gets cancer or is otherwise incapacitated that he should simply let himself die. It's all terrible, obviously, but is all God's will. Seriously, what an utter pig. Let his daughter or wife or sister face such a horrific choice and see how he feels then!

    October 24, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. embarrassed hoosier

    the taliban has moved to indiana...this guy is a joke....and he has done verything possible to "twist" this election.....this is another example of his inability to speak in public without making the whole state appear stupid....sad thing is...he could be elected...another tea-bagger

    October 24, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. David

    After all their baseless attack against our president republicans have no room to play the I've been mistreated and distorted card he said what he said and his statement that when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape "that's something God intended." stands on it's own and doesn't need twisting it's one more statement that shows the GOP has no regard for women who simply want equality it is exactly like the westboro baptist churches signs telling us what god hates anyone who states that they know gods intent is bearing false whitness

    October 24, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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