(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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What on earth is wrong with people like Mourdock, Akin and Walsh????
There is no such thing as god. But even if you do believe in make-believe – to suggest that a rape pregnancy is due to the actions of god and not the rapist is – well – it's pure nonsense. How do these people even get elected?
lol wow has this country become so blind that people like this can be voted into office?
Can someone please explain the gift of free will to this clueless man?
And there's the problem with people believing in fiction of gods... You could take any tragedy on earth and say it is the evil god's will and do nothing to help because that would be going against his will.
About time somebody admits the truth, Praise Jesus. If Mourdock and Romney can see this, why can't others? Go Romney, Go Republicans !
Life should have a chance to live but what about the psychological consequences to the mother. She is going to be forever reminded of the stigma of her rape and it may impact the child's life as well once the kid finds out how he/she came to be.
In the same regard, isn't putting mother's life in danger God's will and by saving her life and taking the baby's life you are intefering with God's will. Mr. Richard Mourdock, you need to learn about life first before you tell others what life is.
I wonder if he would be so quick to say it's God's will if it was his own wife or daughter who was raped.
This guy is clueless...maybe God intended him not to happen?
As a physician, all I can say is that Joe Walsh is naive and ignorant and he should shy away from topics of which he has no clue. For example, anything related to medicine.
So we should not make rape a crime, cause god wants it! Brilliant! And murder is god's will too, so by decriminalizing Rape and murder, we can save a whole lot of money! I'm sure that woman who have been raped feel quite blessed! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle B.A., J.D., S.P.J.
Richard, Richard! I doubt people will now find you worthy to represent them; now, why o' why in h*ll, would you see yourself fit to explain God's will??
I hate to be disrespectful to y'all believers, but ignorance, bigotry or plain idiocy don't cease to be so, because you can back them with verses from the holy book!
You are a gross discredit to your faith and your ideology, when you open your mouth to let out nonsense like this! We all have a right to our opinions, sure; but let's not forget, we also have the right to keep them to ourselves; and, in cases of Mr Mourdock and his likes, that would be a good thing for everyone!
Easy solution, ban abortion, every Republican gets one unwanted baby a month.
We also believe that murder is God's will. Because God has the power to stop it. God has the power to stop anything. God can stop any rape he chooses to stop at any moment. And he does stop some rapes by angels. God has the power to stop the murder of children. So I believe that every murder is God's will.
Ummmmmmmm.....Todd Akin thanks you for edging him out of the "Stupidest Possible Comment On Rape And Abortion Of The Year" Award.
Seriously....what on earth are some people smoking when they speak about abortion?
The GOP is truly the party for uneducated human garbage, and this is a fine example of that. Are there any decent, moral, intelligent conservatives left in this country, or have they all sold out to uneducated talk-radio bums, FOX propagandists, and the neo-Nazi wing? Perplexing that any republican receives votes – until one considers how poorly educated Americans have become, by world standards. Anyone remember Dwight Eisenhower? Can any current GOP candidate even compare?
It´s really strange how republicans are so pro-life till the baby comes out of the mothers womb . Then it´s
"To bad you were born kid to poor parents, Because now you´re on your own" .
Conservatives like this guy want a Christian theocracy no less opressive than Sharia.
Can you say American Taliban.
If Republican candidates take this country to the ground, that too, i truly believe, is God's will. If this nation fails, then god has willed it.
no oneneeds to twist your words you dork..you're plain evil an have your concept of god is rediculous to say the least...hope you wife gets raped
No – I can't believe that even a Tea party nut would say something like that!
Are you kidding me? This person should pack up his bags and leave this country for parts unknown. I am disgusted by this comment.
Cancer must God's will as well. But this pinhead would no doubt fight it with everything he's got.