(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
What a piece of garbage. These lunatics actually have positions of power in this country. In China, the country that is about to kicked the USA down a notch, the entire government is run by scientists...
No responses to this? Wow. It's God's will for a woman who was raped to bear a child after an experience that has psychologically devastated her? Where are the resonses to this? In case you think I am pro-abortion. I am not. My husband and I planned to have a child after our first 2 boys and were hoping for a girl. It ended up being an ectopic pregnancy (which I am sure, sir, you do not have a clue about). I had to have an abortion to keep us both from dying. I lived. My baby died. Was that God's will? I had 2 little boys at home. I had no choice but to abort. Good for you that you never had do make that choice. But you are pathetic for making women feel less because you didn't. You have no clue. I will rally around any band wagon that is pro-Choice because of people like you.
Who elects these morally decrepit people?
While I disagree with him on this issue, primarily based on my lack of faith but having a lot to do with the ridiculousness of his statement, I respect the fact that this belief is consistent with his faith. There are far too many folks who are pro life who defend the rights of a fetus as a testament to God's will but then scratch their heads when asked of instances like this of rape or incest.. If you choose to believe in an almighty god, omniscence and omnipotence HAVE to go along with that, or else God is not truly God.
This is the kind of mindset we do not need representing citizens from Indiana in Washington D.C. This man misled us during his campaign against Sen. Lugar and now he is showing us who he really is. Please do not vote for Mourdock. We must prevent people like him from having any authority to hurt women and their healthcare, to hurt our senior citizens by taking away the protections and advantages of obamacare, to hurt our children by cutting back on funding education, to hurt our veterans by decreasing funding the programs for their welfare and job creation our president has put forward, and to risk our basic economic security by decreasing regulations associated with investment banks, Mourdock is a terrible person, he showed himself during the campaign and he confirmed it making this statement.
I live in Indiana, I have been embarrassed by GOP / tea party officials saying that the girl scouts are bad....That vouchers are good, that gays are evil...that science is wrong and the bible is fact, and women should not have the right to choose. It is a state that claims on its licence plates "in god we trust" It is a church state that scares me with its ignorant believers who resemble the extremes seem in the middle east.
So Rapist are doing God's work? These right wing whackoes are just plain sick and disturbed!
I swear they must be raiding the asylums to find these candidates.
So according to Mr. Mourdock, God is only good to justify his fanatic position, but God is not good at protecting the Raped women. Wow!
What kind of God do you have?
I do not think Mr. Mourdock really believes in God, I think he is simply a bigoted white chauvinist.
American Taliban. Inshallah.
Does this same logic condone friendly fire mortality and the killing of civilians?
Yes, this day in time we still need people with a believe in voodooism. It make the far right Islams happy.
What part of her body her choice doesn't this guy get? This isn't something men even have a say in unless they're in a long term committed relationship. Guys like this are dangerous. They're the same type of guys that, if raised in the middle east, would be stoning and killing women for being raped.
This guy can believe whatever he wants, but once he starts trying to pass legislation based on his personal belief and his faith, that's where I have a problem.
So many are quick to worry about sharia law getting worked into the books, yet often times those same people want their own faith based laws worked in. I feel this man like those people fear muslims in positions of american political influence, the big difference is that this man is actually trying pass laws based on his faith.
Time to send this party back to the stone age. Can't believe this is 2012, yet I feel like I just used a time machine and warped into the 17th century. Good news is that these folks should soon be extinct from the planet.
What an idiot
They must be auditioning for a spot on their respective chamber's Science and Technology committees...sheesh, and people actually vote for these cretins?
The only one's will it belongs to is the rapist's will. I guess in Mourdock's world, God is the rapist.
Really Indiana, you through Lugar under the bus for this guy?
Well, if rapists are doing god's work, does that mean that it is a sin to lock them up? And what about parental rights? Does the rapist get joint custody. Boy, if he gets elected he has some immediate work writing some laws to protect the father's rights. Gotta be god's plan, eh?
So we're supposed to believe that pregnancy from rape is divine, but apparently, in the Old Testament, God felt differently about pregnancy that resulted from adultery. If the husband, who suspected his wife of adultery, took her to the priest, he'd mix an elixir and put some spell on her, after which (supposedly) "God" would cause a miscarriage. Yes, It's in your bible, in Numbers 5:27. Go look it up.
So, is rape itself is God's will?
Shockingly, a republican.
anyone that votes for this man is utterly insane.