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. Rex Dominguez

    You can't say 'it's god's will' for creating the life when he rapes her and then say 'it's NOT god's will' that the rape happened in the first place! AAAAAHHHH!!! Damn it!! I went and got sucked into the invisible man in the sky thing again...

    October 23, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  2. Patrick in Wisconsin

    Well someone's obviously in touch with women, NOT.

    October 23, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  3. michael

    No responses?? Wrong. You should be ashamed of filtering. I said his god would be ashamed of him basically. Anyone out there that believes someone needs to parent a child from a rapist is sick. And people deserve freedom to say as much.

    October 23, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  4. Greg

    these are what we have for an opposition party in America. A bunch of wing nuts.... this is a joke

    October 23, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  5. barnboy

    Looks like god also intended to make an idiot.

    October 23, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  6. wdyerca

    it is not a man's choice, it is the woman's, with possibly advise from others, but still her choice

    October 23, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  7. Keith

    My "God" doesn't use rape to create his devine providence. If Richard Mourdock's does it may be time to find out which "God" Richard is worshiping.

    If the fools elect this ignorant man, then it will be proof that good sense has no place in politics.

    October 23, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  8. Mike P

    There's nothing theologically wrong with what Mourdock said. Because God is omniscient and omnipotent, everything that happens can be rightfully attributed either to God's active will or to His permissive will - i.e., either God acts to make it happen, or God permits it to happen. It bothers me more that Mitt Romney disagrees with what Mourdock says than that Mourdock said it. That's throwing sound theology under the bus for the sake of politics.

    October 23, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  9. Lmb

    I'm pretty sure Mourdock and Akin would be searching for a private abortion if they were raped. How can anybody even consider voting for either of these idiots?!

    October 23, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  10. tipsana

    Pathethic that this debate is held between two candidates guaranteed not to become pregnant as a result a rape.

    October 23, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  11. ClaudiaL

    Apparently, Mourdock does not understand sin & that rape is an evil sinful act, NOT an act of God, and NOT part of God's plan. What concerns me the most is that there are actually American voters who vote these misfits into Congress.

    October 23, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  12. dan

    This man has a wierd belief. It is almost as if he is condoning it. The Tea Party must go. They are an insult to our political arena.

    October 23, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  13. joe

    come on ladies do you need to get hit over the head to see that republican candidates are going to send you back to the 1950's. From mittens on down their adgenda is to get rid of roe V wade do away with planned parenthood and make it impossable for you to get contraception. They will run your life for you and dicissions will not be yours to make. Vote all republicans out. Forward. Romney and his binders full of woman never did say he supported the Lilly Leadbetter bill that helps women get equal pay.

    October 23, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  14. Coffeehead

    The GOP needs to stand back & rebuild themselves or face complete extinction. What an embarassment !!!

    October 23, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  15. Mohammed X

    Bachmann, Akin, Walsh, and Murdoch – proudly brought to you by the American Taliban.

    October 23, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  16. SC

    Here we go again, another religious nutter!

    October 23, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  17. Rae

    What an idiot. I suppose he's been through it before since he seems to know everything about the matter. I have NO respect for people like this. Only weak minded people would ever play the religion card for a crime as horrible as this. If he hasn't ever been through something like this and the fact that he doesn't have a uterus, he shouldn't have an opinion...period. This just solidifies my support for Obama.

    October 23, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  18. BWooster

    How is it God's will to create a life during rape, but not His will to, on occasion, take the life of the mother through the route of however that happens when a woman can't get an abortion? I'm pro-choice, but I don't understand why the Talibangeligals make that distinction, especially if they're going to go out on a limb and suggest that God sends babies to us via rape.

    The advocates of this would also be well-advised that there are apparently men out there who have custodial rights after raping someone. How are you going to tell me I have to carry a pregnancy when it might mean exposing my child to being parented by someone who rape me?

    Finally, how is incest not rape? Just sayin.

    October 23, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  19. BRod

    This is why we do not need a GOP presidency. These people are completely insane. And it's not like he's some rogue nut – he's simply spouting their solid pro-life platform. What these morons do not get is that life exists before conception. That doesn't mean it is sacred or should be allowed to develop into a human because of some bronze age goat herder beliefs.

    October 23, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  20. Rachel

    There ... is ... no ... such ... thing ... as ... god. It's a myth, people.

    And yes, rape sucks.

    October 23, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  21. Lady Dee

    Rape is not the Will Of God its a CRIME u just cant go around rapping women when u want too some women want to keep the baby an some dont

    October 23, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  22. jennifer holland

    there is nothing to be said for this type of assinine comment

    October 23, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  23. Snagniehr

    So far no comments have been made because this guy's idocy leaves everyone speechless.

    October 23, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  24. TR

    Right. Loser.

    October 23, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  25. Brad

    If you just let Republicans talk, their true colors will eventually come out. Their radical views are disgusting, imbecile, and dangerous. This is why they should not be leading anything.

    October 23, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
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