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. SaySome

    What a mind twisted God he has!

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

    I went back and listened to his original comment. It sounded to me like he was talking about life not rape when he said it was God's intention. We may disagree on whether life is created by God but to say the man was saying "Rape Pregnancy" is God's plan is just down right misleading. But then again, in this day and age, we don't really care do we? It amazes me that the press is supposed to keep candidates honest but they only are concerned with honesty when it is the candidate that they oppose. People we have a real problem with the press. They hide stories that hurt their candidates and distort the facts when it's the other guy. Bad, bad problem. Neither CNN or Fox has any integrity.

    October 24, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. GAW

    If one believes that all pregnancies are the will of God then logically one would have to believe that the means by which they occur are the will of God as well. If people would just take the time to think and then speak there might be less trouble.

    October 24, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. judaloo

    Why is anybody dictating what a woman can do with her own body? I will guarantee there wouldl never be any hint of government intervention when something suggested a man's testicles be removed.

    October 24, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Matt

    The big consolation here is that God intended for this bigot to blab this nonsensical jib-jab so we could all see what a dangerous fool he is, and that we should not put him in the US Senate.

    October 24, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. Daniel

    I understand quite well what he was saying. I just think his views are outdated and demeaning to women. A man whose religious beliefs would guide him in creating laws for this country has no place in a position that would allow him to do so. Separation of church and state. That's what this country was founded on.

    October 24, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. cloverfield

    He thinks that conception by rape is gods will and abortion is wrong. He also thinks that abortion is OK if mothers life is in jeopardy. Using his logic, is it not gods "will" that the mothers life is in jeopardy. Why is it OK to interfere with gods "will" in this case? Why interfere with any medical condition if it is "gods will"? What a nut bag. This is why religion has NO PLACE in government, or anywhere for that matter. It throws logic out the window in favor of gods "will".

    October 24, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. WhatNow

    Are these politicians really this stupid. Why on earth would you talk about rape and abortion so close to the election? Keep your silly personal beliefs to yourself and out of politics and policy.

    October 24, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. rs

    These poor fools (like Mourdock, Akin, Ryan and by extension even Romney) are simply too stupid to connect the dots of their own "reasoning" (if we can call it that).

    Anyone voting for these idiots might as well vote for the Taliban as far as what this crowd can do for America.

    October 24, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. Calvin Our World Millwood

    HE IS RIGHT ...there's no need to denounce him, because according to the Bible God did command men to rape women and keep the female virgin captives for themselves ...

    e.g. (Judges 21:10-24 NLT) (Numbers 31:7-18 NLT) (Deuteronomy 20:10-14) (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT) (Deuteronomy 22:23-24 NAB) (2 Samuel 12:11-14 NAB) (Deuteronomy 21:10-14 NAB) (Judges 5:30 NAB) (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT) (Zechariah 14:1-2 NAB)

    October 24, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Bobbi

    Republican politicians, please stop using any combination of two or more of the following words in the same sentence: rape, pregnancy, abortion to make comments that are untethered from reality. You do it deliberately to garner attention and a moment of fame for yourself, so when you claim Democrats are twisting your words, you are being dishonest. More sickeningly you are using the crime of rape to achieve your entirely self serving goal. Children are raped too, how long before one of you uses that evil crime to say something sickening just to get attention.
    Stop, just stop.

    October 24, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Anth

    it means exactly what he said "it is something that God intended to happen" – the assessment is correct reported, so what God is he worshipping? think about that

    October 24, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. LiberalLove

    How can abortionist liken an unborn child to someone on death row. What crime did the baby commit? How is it that you can not tell the difference between an unborn child and a murderer. Your logic is beneath understanding. I hear comments like, "oh they don't mind killing someone on death row but they want to protect an unborn child". Yes! and unborn child has done absolutely nothing wrong but liberals want to sentence them to death without due process. A mass-murdered, abortionist want to give live too. What a corrupt mentality!! Kill the innocent...let the guilty live.

    October 24, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. formerlyjames

    So many christians think that god speaks to them and they can relay his intents. They are delusional. Usually Republican taliban party.

    October 24, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Bob

    Perhaps he should have said "something that God ALLOWED to happen" instead of "intended to happen." There's quite a difference in divine intent and God allowing something to happen. Intend implies approval; allow implies disapproval. God knows what is going to happen because he's omniscient; allows bad things to happen to innocent people to showcase the results of rejecting Him (many biblical examples), is revulsed by every kind of sin because they are contrary to His character, and will someday judge all who sin. I believe that is the correct theology of the Bible (if taken literally). Perhaps candidate Mourdock can clarify his statement with a better choice of words if this is what he believes.

    October 24, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. undecidedstill

    I wonder if he would feel the same if *he* were gang raped! Or his wife and daughter!

    October 24, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. leen321

    ALL men need to stop making any comments about abortion and women's rights.

    October 24, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. LiberalLove

    That's not what he said.

    October 24, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. mike

    "A senior GOP strategist, however, said Mourdock may not face as much pushback from Republican leaders as Akin experienced, given the limited time remaining before Election Day and the importance for the GOP to win the Indiana seat."
    Well, he did kill my father, but I need him for rides to work, so I'll not say anything!!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Russell

    "I spoke from my heart, therefore my disgusting comments were okay." – Richard Mourdock

    October 24, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. luckyponytoo

    Disgusting. It is not "God's" will. It is the will of a criminal. How can civilized people consciously choose to enforce the will of a criminal on his victim? To tell a woman that she now has no control over her life because she was raped is just plain wrong. What? You wanted to finish college? Become a doctor? Oh, sorry, you'll be in labor on the day of your MCATs and good luck trying to get permission for your toddler follow you around during your residency. Oh, be sure and let the guy who raped you have equal parental rights. In fact, you probably should just marry him since we don't want to have any unwed parents stinking up the neighborhood. In fact...that's a great idea. He'll probably have a tough time getting a job getting out of prison, so he can live off of your income and not have to be on welfare, as well as take care of the kid while you are at school and work! We'll let him out of jail extra-early, since he was simply doing God's will, after all!


    God doesn't get to choose when I have a baby. A rapist doesn't get to choose when I have a baby. The government does NOT get to choose when I have a baby. Only my husband and I get to make that decision, if and when we are ready.

    October 24, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Curt

    Some of these republicans with their fanatic religious views are no different than the Taliban.

    October 24, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Liz

    Another idiot from the GOP. Any woman who votes for the Republicans is out of her mind.

    October 24, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. sadsackfromflorida

    To say that God intended a child to be born from a violent act begs the question: does that mean all pain and horror in our existence is because God intends it to be that way? That would mean a child dying of a painful disease, natural disaster, violence or accident is what God intended. I cannot accept that.

    October 24, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. 000MM

    Unbelievable, these southern GOP/FARTS preaching us God’s intents – they still think of us as their slaves.

    October 24, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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