(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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Richard Mourdock, running for U.S. Senate in Indiana, is a world class idiot. It's not God's will, it's a rapist's will. And, it's the citizen's will of the United States that he never, ever serve in government much less a restaurant. He should do the selfless thing and disappear.
If God were interested in human affairs, she would be really aggravated by this idiot's comments.
ah the gift that keeps on giving ...dumb republican politicians and their big mouths. They are so sure of their misconceived notions.
I hope no one votes for this idiot.
This man is a prime example of the type of radical insanity and disregard for women that is so prevailant in the republican party today. Any person running for public office that wants to force his/her religious views on the American people is not qualified for the office. My fellow Hoosiers we must make sure he does not get re-elected.
Ha, hah, hah... hah.
Great! Yet another brain-dead Republican that puts the Bible over women's rights. Are you freaking kidding me with this???!!! You moron Republicans do know that this is the United States of America right? This is NOT the united states of the bible. Jesus would freaking smite the entire GOP if he were real... Get a clue Republicans... Get beyond a third-grade education in Biology and stop putting your bible-fairy-tale ahead of your humanity and common sense.
Please, someone, save us from the GOP. I want a goverment that offers freedom FROM religion.
Mourdock is an extremist like Akin and has no place in Hoosier politics.
I am just overwhelmed by the ignorance of these GOP candidates. Ladies, please think long and hard about what these men are saying about YOUR body. The rights of women will go back to the dark ages if they are elected !
Ladies Vote Obama and a Democratic congress to protect your rights.
Well, it is very easy for him to make a statement and not have to be the one to bear out the results. I wonder how he would feel if it was his wife or daughter...
Hah, hah, hah,... hah. *trails off in uncomfortable laughter*
And this is why Donnelly got my vote, and I'm Republican.
I am so glad we live in a nation that is not defined by radical religious beliefs that are forced on others despite their will. I do not believe in your god nor do I expect you to hold me to your magical and mysterious standards. Since the rape of a man can never result in a pregnancy I suspect the logical course would be to ask the victim/patient how they would like to proceed, rather than imposing some arbitrary and made up standard defined by a belief in a non-existent being.
I'm incredulous. Enough said
Disgusting. Absolutely reprehensible. All of these rich, out of touch slimeballs deciding what rape is and isn't and what it's place is in women's lives makes me want to vomit.
At least he is being self consistent. What he has really proved is how absurd christianity and other western religions are.
So, is it legal by God's law if someone rape your wife or daughters? What a crap!
what a surprise, he's a republican....
You disgust me!
if rape pregnancies are god's will then so was the rape.
Wow! Am I the first to respond to this article? Imagine that? So here's my question: if Mourdock would not allow an abortion in the case of rape because God intended it to happen, then why would he allow an abortion when the mother's life is danger? Would not God intend for the latter to happen as well?
Another thing – hey Mourdock – if your wife or daughter were raped would you tell them that their rape-pregnancy was the will of your chosen deity? And what would you tel, them when the rapist files for parental visitation rights to the baby? You gonna give credit to your biblical deity then??? How about this – Mourdock spends a night in a prison cell with a convicted rapist and then we tell him his experience was just 'god's will'...
"God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick," he continued.
Donnelly also responded, writing, "I think rape is a heinous and violent crime in every instance. The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen–ever. What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape."
Why is this not the headline?
Yesterday, Romney did an ad for Mourdoch.
Romney's VP Ryan was the writer of a bill that tried to define a difference between rape and forced rape.