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. gene brady

    So in HIS twisted mind, no crime was commited. The same for all things... GOD's WILL!!!!! Total chaos.....

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

    If we're just supposed to sit back and accept everything as god's will, why do we even need legislators? What's going to happen is just going to happen. Saying something stupid like this and then trying to shift the blame to 'whats wrong in Washington...' is getting old already. They are all what's wrong in Washington, whether they're spouting off outrageous stupidity or saying nothing at all.

    October 24, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. JL

    Pregnancies from rape, god's will? Just like political death from sticking ones' foot in their mouth is god's will. It has nothing to do with opponents' want of political gain.

    October 24, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Jimbo

    I understand what he is trying to say, i.e. do not blam God for all the evils we do on earth because there is always good come out of it. This is what I learn from church all the time. This applies to the millions of Jews killed by Hitler or all the people killed in centuries due unjustified wars. For a religious person, the key answer to why bad things happen to good people is never use the candidate's logic to explain there is always some good tthing indeded from God. He should just say God is absent and abortion detroys life, thus, I am aginst abortion in all situations. Of course, that is his view because he is not a victim of a crime.

    October 24, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Rationalintn

    So, I suppose by his logic that everything that happens is intended by god.

    October 24, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Rob

    Well then abortion is also gods will.

    October 24, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. BuilderBob

    Where are the GOP coming up with these candidates? First Missouri, now Indiana. And the thinks others in congress are the problem with America?

    October 24, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Observant Historian

    "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," Mourdock told reporters at a news conference. "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."

    It's amazing how the Repubs blame everyone but themselves for their mistakes. What he said reveals exactly how much heart and principle he has, and his distorted concept of "faith." Romney's claim that this is a "policy disagreement" is typical Romney. It reflects his party's stated policy of no abortion even in the case of rape and incest, so as their candidate for their platform, he is saying out of the other side of his mouth that he DOES supports this guy. He selected Paul Ryan, a fellow traveler with Mourdock and Akin, mainly to pander to the people who vote that way. Defense of this nonsense on these pages shows how twisted many Repub supporters have become.

    October 24, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. rs

    Can anyone voting in the upcoming election believe that the political party of someone so disconnected from reality as Mourdockcould really run this country, and fix its complex problems? God's will? Republicans used to be the rational "adult" candidates, now they front for religious simpleton radicals.
    Voting for these people sells America out to crazies.

    October 24, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. Dave in SC

    Apparently it also the Lord's will for the Republican Party to be populated by imbeciles.

    October 24, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. lee

    this is what mormons think about blacks –
    And [God] had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities." (2 Nephi 5:21)

    October 24, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. Murray

    What is repugnant is the notion that he sees it as his duty to protect "God's gift" by denying a rape victim's right to an abortion. How very noble of him. Just makes you want to hug the very last breath out of him.

    October 24, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Keep This In Mind

    That fellow should have never had gone there. What in the world possessed him to say something which could become so damaging? He ought to have known that anything which comes out of a Republican's mouth will get twisted and convoluted to the point it doesn't represent what was initially said or represented. Unlike their Democrat counterparts, Republicans pay a heavy price for unseemly comments.

    October 24, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. orion7x

    Prostate cancer is gods gift to the world...

    October 24, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. IndeePendant

    I am pity the women who will vote for him.

    October 24, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  16. krowbar

    If the pregnancy resulting from a rape was God's will, then it follows that he could have prevented the pregnancy, or even the rape. Of course, Akin says that the woman's body has ways of preventing the pregnancy too.

    When are the voters going to wake up to the fact that Tea Party led, FAUX News incited, right wing extremists are the equivalent of America's Taliban, who would impose their extreme views on everybody else. Quit voting them in.

    October 24, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. bguy

    But Richard, if that woman visits a clinic and the fetus is aborted, mustn't that be God's will, too?

    October 24, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  18. Snake-Eyes

    once again we have a politicain trying to be a preacher......a man saying he knows how it feels to be a woman (no worse than a woman claiming she knows how it feels to be a man), but perhpas most frightnening is this person that claims to know as much as God does...........scary indeed.

    October 24, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. aspell

    This is not what he said CNN. Please report this correctly. There is no way he was condoning rape and ALL OF YOU ON THIS PAGE KNOW THAT!!! We are letting our political views get in the way of common sense. On both sides. We should all understand what he was trying to say. And we should give that to people on both sides. WE ALL NEED TO DIAL IT DOWN PLEASE!!

    October 24, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. Patty

    Nice try CNN. Everyone knows that 4 more years of this clown Obama and America will experence a Greek style debt induced economic collapse...so what does CNN do to help their lover boy Obama? Hey I know!!...let's pretend that Republicans are "pro-rape"...the sheeple voters are just stupid enough to fall for it.

    October 24, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    That dumb-ass should have simply said that he believe his God is deterministic and left it at that, but no, he had to go into details – details he is ill-equipped to deal with....guess it's God's will that he make an ass of himself 🙂

    October 24, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  22. Mamskas

    The Bible teaches that "God is good ... in Him is no shadow, no variation or turning ... " so therefore it is never the will of a good God, let alone one to send His only begotten son Jesus into the world rather than condemn it, that evil, or bad things happen because of God.

    Evil or bad things happen period and that is a fact. Their cause is clear to see. A woman is not raped because God caused it but because the rapist did. If one would rather accuse God of being evil because He did not prevent it? That is also foolish. Why? The Bible teaches that God's ways are far higher than ours but one thing is clear ... bad things are not caused by God, period!

    October 24, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. Ron from IL

    I think everyone knows what he's getting at... life is beautiful and is a gift. He should have said it differently. I think the problem here is that republicans seem to put way to much emphasis on the life of the baby and not the impact it has on the woman. You have a product of what might just be the most horrible thing that could happen to a woman growing inside her for 9 months.... Its Gods will if the baby makes it or not. If God wants the baby to live he'll give the woman the strength to endure if he doesn't she won't. I know for sure God's will isn't going to come from a bunch of corrupt politicians on either side.

    October 24, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. vulpes

    LOL ... He admits to saying a ridiculous and horrible thing but then accuses others of "distorting" his comments ... he should apologize and admit he does not know what God wants ...

    October 24, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. Squigman

    An embarrassment to mankind. It's no surprise he's from Indiana. Just some of that republican cream rising to the top.

    October 24, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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