(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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Oh, my god – how can anyone justify voting for republicans? They say the most insane things – as a sibling of a rape victim, it is disrespectful to make such a claim! No one asks to be raped and to imply that my God wanted it to happen is horrible – what kind of nation have we become?!
Anyone who is stupid enough to vote for this moron deserves whatever they get.
Dems really have trouble understanding English sometimes.
I think that any pregnancy should be subject to the mothers will.
You really think these statements need moderation?
Let us say whether you say that if your wife, sibling or daughter gets raped. M-n.
Pregnancies from Rape is NOT God's will.
Just when I didn't think a Republican politician could get any dumber they prove me wrong. What's worse is that I live in southern Indiana and his district.
wow. I mean, wow.
If God does not intend for rape to happen, how and why does He intend for its consequence?
"Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views." That's because Romney has no views until he sees who he is talking to.
This is enough to make me seriously consider switching parties to Democrat. Where do they find these idiots?
I can't imagine, where are all the damp rocks that these creeps sllither out from under?
Welcome to the middle ages.
So a pregnancy resulting from rape is "God's will" hence the very act of rape is "God's will". By this hypothesis rapists are "God's messengers" doing the will of "God". Me thinks too much religion, especially of the "messianic" type destroys brain cells. "God" help us if people of this mindset rule this country!!
the republican party are way out of touch
Once again the GOP has given all women another reason to vote straight democrat.
Tea party. Religion. Racists. U people are morons.
As dumb as a bowl of stones.
Has Walsh never heard of an ectopic pregnancy? It is a life-threatening condition to the mother. The baby (fetus) cannot survive. Ectopic pregnancies are estimated to occur in as many as 1 in every 40 pregnancies to 1 in every 100 pregnancies.
If one believes that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing God who controls all and has a plan for each of us, then Mr Mourdock's idea that God wanted you to get pregnant makes sense, but only if you also accept that God let you get raped. It otherwise makes no sense, to think that all-knowing, all-powerful God wanted you pregnant but didn't know you would get raped. But then, people who believe in such a God have a glorious history of believing things that are utterly mutually incompatible, so go ahead Mr Mourdock, et al, knock yourselves out.
So, you are saying that God willed the RAPIST to impregnate the woman he raped?
I just checked with God. She says it isn't her will at all, that the world is filled with lots of things that were never part of her plan. That's what sin is all abou. That's what it does to her creation. She thought she made that pretty clear to everybody and she's not happy people want to justify or excuse terrible things by calling it her will. Stop blaming God for all the nasty crap we do.