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. Political Cynic

    Ok, so we are all clear. According to the GOP, the great CHRISTIAN nation of the USA holds these values:

    1. God concones some rapes
    2. God condones locking gays up in concentration camps.
    3. God condones building more bombs and not spending anything to help the poor or elderly.

    Hmm-so now I have to ask...how does this differ appreciably from the Islamic extremism the GOP claims to be so opposed to? I'm a bit confused here. (Yes, that IS sarcasm)

    October 23, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    He can't be serious!

    October 23, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  3. ArthurP

    It appears that it is a growing sentiment in the Republican party that Rapists are doing God's work. If they get hold of the House, Senate and the Presidency look forward a Bill to remove rape as a crime.

    October 23, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    why do we even have a death penalty for murder if its obvious Gawd wants them dead.

    October 23, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  5. curtains313

    this has got to stop

    October 23, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  6. acey49

    What is it with these Republicans? Stupidity knows no bounds! Or is it the stupidity of the voters who keep electing these crazy people into office.

    October 23, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  7. Jimh77

    This guy is sick.

    October 23, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  8. Tantarus

    How do women vote for the GOP at all. It is like directly voting against your own interests.

    October 23, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  9. John smith

    It's a wonder we're the most powerful country in the world... we should be in the caves if these guys are all we had...

    October 23, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  10. Duchess

    OMG!!! Is he for real????

    October 23, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  11. Michael Hobart

    Does the Tea Party have a special pull that attracts candidates who are misogynists?

    October 23, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  12. Thomas Minet

    Not my God.

    October 23, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  13. joe

    a fine example of ignorance

    October 23, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  14. Mark

    OMG, The Republicans candidates just continue the outrage against women. Who is voting for these candidates that think rape is ok? Vote smart, Republicans are JUST TOO extreme.

    October 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  15. tam

    Another troglodyte (no offense to the fossils). What has happened to America?! Help!

    October 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  16. bandomak

    I wonder how he'd feel if it was his daughter or wife carrying the child of someone who raped her.

    October 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  17. Dane

    This is exactly why we don't need any Republican in office period. There are no moderates..they have all gone to the extreme right.

    October 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  18. Jim Day

    It is heartening to know that GOP candidates have a special knowledge of God's will???????????????? I always thought that it was unknowable.

    October 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  19. Bertha59

    So, a rape victim is injured by God twice? If you believe god wills he/she on you, then god wills rape and then to add insult to a horrendous injury a pregnancy happens and then abortion is out of the question because the conservatives have no humanity in them.

    October 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  20. Steve

    Wow, won't this guy be upset when the rapture comes and he's left behind surrounded by the 'unbelievers'!!

    October 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  21. Anne

    Yeah you include articles to convince that people abortion is right.
    I could agree with rape, therapeutical, or if the life of the mom is on risk.
    But you want any woman free to abort a bay when ever they feel like, and that, independent of religion, it is wrong.
    Who are you to deny a life like yourself? How would you like that your parents decided to abort you instead of having the responsability of having you. They let you have a life, let your own kid have a life too. Since the very beginning they are alive and abortion is a killing, that the poor little thing can not complaint, it doesn't mean that you are not killing him. Even if you give him for adoption, which I don't 100% agree, as mother you should end loving him, at least he / she has a choice to be somebody one day. If the media stop selling to young girls this ridiculous idea that abortion is ok.

    October 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  22. dante

    Do the repubs ever learn?

    October 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  23. dreamer96

    So he is saying it was God will for the German Women to be gang raped by the Russian troops as Berlins fell into the Russians hands at the end of WWII...The Russians were returning the terror the German Troop pay on the Russian Women as they marched into Russia years earlier....

    October 23, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  24. Cantgetenough

    I wonder if he would have felt the same way if one of his daughter's was impregnated as a result of rape.

    October 23, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  25. Loki

    So the rape is not God's wii, but the pregnancy is–OK now I understand

    October 23, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
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