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. c. coleman

    Maybe if he was raped he would think twice about his statement

    October 23, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    He is wrong.

    October 23, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  3. michael

    Is this how cnn operates. getting people to post responses and then either erasing them, not sharing them, or making some believe they have been posted? Lame does not begin to describe this practice. Comments have been posted. You are lying. I can't imagine I'm the only one being lied to. But no one will ever see this.

    October 23, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  4. Nick Reyes

    Another ignorant, arrogant narrow minded Republican wanting to play the role of GOD!! Who gives them the right to decide for another person, as to what is best for them!

    October 23, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  5. Leslie B.

    I think what Mourdock said may have been badly worded but not off the mark (I live in his area and have NO intention of voting for him). Aborting a baby who is the result of a rape is not a necessity. Good *can* come out of bad; that doesn't mean God wants the bad to happen. A child conceived through rape isn't the one who should be punished; the rapist should be. Reacting to violence with violence against the innocent is not going to take away the pain, fear, or trauma of the rape. If the mother aborts the baby, she isn't going to forget the rape happened or "get over it."

    October 23, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  6. A person

    Wow. Yet even more evidence the religious right are absolutely insane.

    October 23, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  7. DJ


    Did you talk to God? You know...just to make sure he really intended for people to get raped in the first place and end up with a rapist's baby?

    October 23, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  8. sosume

    Sooo. Is Mourdock saying God is not omnipotent? God is weak and has no control? Bad things happen despite His intentions to the contrary? But we cannot do anything? I thought God gave us free will so we could deal with bad things. If someone gets cholera, is it God's intention that he/she dies, or can we do something about it? Oh, but Mourdock would say – that's different. The only possible reason to not terminate the pregnancy is the idea that abortion after a rape terminates a life because life begins at conception. Correct? That has to be his "logic". Then why does God allow millions of spontaneous miscarriages? Is it because God is not omnipotent, has no control? Does He suddenly change His mind about that person being born? Where do the souls of all these unbaptized, and probably unknown, unborn persons go? Fundamentalists like Mourdock believe unbaptized souls go to hell because they have not been "saved" (if there are exceptions, what are they?). There are consequences to believing that human life begins at conception. One consequence must be that God cannot possibly be omnipotent or He would have the power to prevent such tragedies. Secondly, innocent people suffer through their whole life through no fault of their own. Was that really God's will? People like Mourdock are not thinking through the consequences of their distorted theology. I refuse to believe that God is that weak and that evil.

    October 23, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  9. jdoe

    If pregnancy due to rape is God's will, as Mourdock contends, then by his logic the rape must be God's will as well.

    October 23, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  10. Oshkosh

    Biology should be taught at elementary school to prevent to produce such stupid people.

    October 23, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  11. Scones

    So if the baby from rape was god's will
    Doesn't that mean the rape was god's will?
    This is why I loose faith in humanity

    October 23, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  12. Joei n USA

    Doesn't satan come into play somewhere???

    October 23, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. Zwei Stein

    So a 15 year old rape victim has to practically ruin her life further by carrying the baby of a rapist. These guys are sick. I'll bet if this happened to their daughters, their position would change. I find it hard to believe that the citizens of Indiana and Illinois want people with this sort of mentality to represent their interests.

    October 23, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  14. Tom Nine Dog

    It's official: the Republicans are the American Taliban. How do they get to be this stupid? And how do we fix them?

    October 23, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  15. Yeahona

    One day God is going to come down and smack people like him so silly he won't even know how to repeat the idiotic words he said.

    October 23, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  16. ohsnap

    WHAT??????????? This is why people turn away from God...stupid and untrue statements like this.

    October 23, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  17. Cedar Rapids

    "Speaking after a debate with his opponent, Walsh seemed to suggest medical advances made dangerous pregnancies rare."

    Define rare. Every year between 700 and 900 women in America die during childbirth.

    October 23, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  18. Deb in MT

    "...he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger."

    So, God decides when conception should occur, but is powerless to prevent life threatening complications from the resulting pregnancy...that He chose to start? Do I have that right?

    Where does the Republican party find these imbeciles? Can't they just shut up about things they know nothing about, and keep their freaky pseudoreligious beliefs out of public policy?

    Nice that Romney endorsed this idiot, though: good job, Mittens.

    October 23, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  19. bresson


    October 23, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  20. kevin

    "...pregnancies resulting from rape are intended by God." Then so is the rape itself. Great way to make your God seem inept, Mr. Mourdock.

    October 23, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  21. Dionysus86


    October 23, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  22. Evelyn Connaway

    Not the God I know – Maybe Mourdock's God is Satan himself. The man who commits rape isn't intent of procreation, he is only intent on doing harm to a woman and any seed left from the assault needs to be destroyed.

    October 23, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  23. Eric Torres

    Historicly speaking: Politician's personal opinions on God's purpose has never ended well.

    October 23, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  24. Gonutswithidiots

    This guy lost his medicine, please! someone help him!

    October 23, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  25. Rhette Michaels

    That's just dumb. Idiots like that need to be voted against!

    October 23, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
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