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. Anonymous

    since a man has no idea how a woman feels how can he sit in judgement about her body and carrying a rapists baby...I love how men have all the answers for women!!!

    October 23, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  2. diana

    If men carried fetuses, there wouldn't be a pro-life man on the planet. This guy is a moron.

    October 23, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  3. hypatia


    October 23, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  4. dufflerpud

    Oh good – another idiot who claims to know the mind of God.

    How arrogant.

    October 23, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  5. wdyerca

    her choice, not God's, not man's, her body....her choice

    October 23, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  6. Kane

    He's right, of course. That's what i keep telling women as I'm tying them to my bed, but for some reason they never believe me...

    October 23, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  7. Tommy

    That is as bad at Republican Rep. Richard Rivard from WI stating in my local paper " Some girls rape easily". When will Republicans learn that rape is nothing to make light of. All Republicans from WI, including Ryan, have denounce Rivard and I think all Republicans should denouce this guy as well.

    October 23, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  8. Ms

    Mr. Mourdock is a great example of why I'm an Atheist.

    October 23, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  9. azdaddie

    We as a country are doomed as long as religion of any kind infiltrates our political structure . . .

    October 23, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  10. steve

    And why am I not surprised? It's hard to believe how far this nation has fallen since many of our fathers, like my own, went off to fight fascism in World War II. Now we have the same insanity running rampant at home in the retrogressive GOP. They want to control our bodies as well as our minds. I'm sure that Jefferson, Adams, Washington, and the rest of the founding fathers are looking for a new home.

    October 23, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  11. axolotl

    Talk about a sick, twisted mind!

    October 23, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  12. Kim

    Gentlemen, reading your comments frightens me, are we in the stone ages? Sirs, since when did "God" designate you the ruler of Anyone Else's body? With any due respect, it is Beyond Time your personal feelings left the forum of public office. We live in a global society, a global world, your one specific point of (limited) religious oriented view, on a women's right to choose, is an antiquated power play. Please Stop, find another platform! If the only leverage you have, given all the issues that America faces, is to impede on another right to control a biological function, then sir your out of date! Small minds and opinionated narrow views that seek to substantiate a singular religious view are ignorant and have no place in the serious business of running this country. Small minds hinder other peoples rights. Religion and politics are separate – and should remain that way. Shame on you for playing on peoples fears, of what you deem as "righteous". Indiana WAKE UP and elect a candidate who can see beyond his own personal religious mission of submission. Snap out of the middle ages and elect a person who can address the real issues that face the state – how about the antiquated tax policy, lack of foreclosure relief (the rest of the nation did!). Get real, address real issues and stop hiding behind the fear of religion.

    October 23, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  13. mack

    these people who actually try to defend their position against abortion even in the case of rape or incest are not really, really serious, right? there's no way i can believe they actually think this is rational and they're not just playing the card they think is right. trying saying what you really believe and not pandering to a base. there's no way in the 21st century that anyone should argue that a 17 year old girl who is raped by her uncle should have to carry the child to term by law. that's flat out wrong and you can't make it even remotely seem right.

    October 23, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  14. Deidre

    Pregnancy from rape is not God's will any more than rape or any other crime is. Writing things off as God's will is a lame excuse. This amounts to nothing more than forcing one's private religious views on a majority. This is a violation of the separation of church and state.

    October 23, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  15. Nina B.

    Astonishing. I'm going to his opponent's website right now to contribute to his campaign in the hopes this man does not hold office...and I don't even live in Indiana.

    October 23, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  16. Jo555

    Is this the best our education system can produce?

    October 23, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  17. Ernest Sambo

    We should not rush to judge the Senate Candidate. I totally agree with him. I am a product of Rape, now 40years. My Mom tried to abort me 2 times but failed. After i was born was sent to a foster parent. a few months later, was given back to my Mother. I ended up to be her best and closest friend.

    Rape is not and will never be the will of God! But the pregnancy is!! Bbecause God is the creator of Life. Yes the Pain of being forced into it will never be simple.

    One thing I am not loving in this years election is that people wants to interpret the will of God by political understanding. America has to wake up to what is right other than what the majority wants because one person with God is the Majority -whether elected or not.

    October 23, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  18. Victor

    Excuse me while my head explodes. I wonder why Dems have such a huge advantage with women voters.

    October 23, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. markiejoe

    Where do the Republicans get these candidates? Seriously. Is there a farm somewhere where they grow them and spray too many pesticides?

    October 23, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  20. Kylene

    Oh my, another one? Women you better run fast from the GOP

    October 23, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  21. Hooligan

    This kind of thinking REALLY needs to stop.

    By that same logic anything is the will of god.

    People like this should not be running any large group of people.

    October 23, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  22. Ricardo Martinez

    I do not understand what is going on with the Republican Party, in years past they were humane people, now it seems that they are all confused, especiall their Presidential Choice. They have become so desparate that they are willing to lose thier dignity, and self respect. When you have someone saying Rape is Gods Will, their is the Devil.

    October 23, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  23. BigMike

    Are you kidding?....No one should be forced to birth the child of the person that raped them....that's like saying that since some one broke into your house you have to let them stay...because God wouldn't want them to sleep in the rain....these people never cease to amaze me....so what's next a law that says no man woman or child should not call the police because jesus dosent like tattle -tells....separation of church and state we have it for a reason.

    October 23, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  24. just sayin'

    well he does know about "absurd and sick" I wonder why he allows for an abortion when the mothers life is at stake? I mean according to his illogic, that is also God's will. I notice you don't see any cases of Republlican women saying these truly stupid things. Too bad that Richard Lugar lost the primary, he was an honorable man who horror of horrors was willing to compromise in govt. These tea party guys are going to be the death of the Republican party

    October 23, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  25. Mike Howard

    So if God's Will can rape a woman and conceive a child, then isn't it also God's Will should that woman abort that rape baby? I mean, if we are not responsible for our own actions, and God is directing the lust of rapists to create children, then why is abortion suddenly an evil act committed by the will of a human? Maybe God is trying tring to populate heaven with fetus'!

    October 23, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
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