(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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Rape in my opinion is an act of pure evil...I definitely would NOT want a senator in congress who thinks otherwise! I hope NOONE in Indiana votes for this guy!
Surely you jest. You can't possibly believe that a just God would allow a woman to be impregnated by a rapist. It scares me that someone of your thinking is a participant in Congress. I'm glad my God isn't your God.
Well that is a totally mindless statement. He would like to presume to know the mind of god, what a joke.
I respect your believe and you can apply that to your own body!
This nut case does not belong in the U.S. Senate. Period.
Murdock is exactly not the kind of person that belongs in the United States Senate. He, Akin and others of his ilk should should make every reasonable American shudder at the thought of them winning.
Mr. Mourdock just disqualified himself as someone not fit to sit in the Senate or in any public capacity.
"The God I believe in [...] does not intend..."
If this "god" is such a powerful dude, how do these things happen? Either god wanted to let it happen and chose this big mess of events, or god didn't want it but is too weak to do anything. Or maybe... [drum roll] the whole god business is made up nonsense. And don't give me any of that free will junk. The modern christian apologist claims that god pre-planned a billion years of evolution to make everything happen exactly as he wanted it, and yet he can't plan it so women don't have to get raped every day?
Is somebody going to check the water in the Midwest?
LUNY TUNE. There's no escaping how Neanderthal some people think. I'm waiting for the next murderer in an Indiana court to use the Murdock defense "It was God's will."
I weep for this nation. What have we become?
To be fair, God did impregnate Mary knowing she'd consent eventually. I wonder how many other rapists think like that?
So if his daughter or wife is raped and becomes pregnant, does he still wish to carry this view? Does God get involved in every tiny detail of our lives or grant us free will? People like this need to realize they are fools.... I hope the good people of Indiana show him the door.
"This is an issue that opponents of life throw out there to make us look unreasonable," Walsh said. "There's no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has been, has become a tool for abortions any time under any reason."
Ok so there's no exception for life of the mother, but you're lucky you live in a time when medicine is so much more advanced. Back in the day though, if a woman dies due to a risky pregnancy, no matter the conditions surrounding the pregnancy, it was God's will that she died, even that the baby died as well.
Why develop medicine at all? If you die from the flu, diarrhea, malaria, car accident, sclerosis of the liver, type 2 diabetes, whatever...it's God's will.
This is a joke, so women these days don't have anything to worry about in terms of complications, it just isn't a risk anymore. Guess we should've told that women in puerto rico who was denied an abortion and died during birth due to the fact that she had lymphoma. The baby died too. But it was God's will so I guess I shouldn't feel any remorse or sympathy for her. All in God's hands so I can just wipe my hands free and feel good that I'm a white male and I don't need to think too deeply into any of these issues at all. Funny how belief in this makes me not need to feel empathy for anyone with problems really anymore if I don't want to. It's ALL in God's hands.
Oh look, a Republican said it. I'm shocked......
Rape is horrible and so is cancer. Mourdock's statement concerning abortion leads me think, if he was stricken with cancer he would not seek medical care. After all your God lets cancer happens. If you die you die. Don't take me wrong, dropping dead is horrible too.
Rare is not 0%. But let's say that 0% of the time the mother's life was never in peril. Then what is the point of these candidates raising the issue and arguing about something that wouldn't happen?
Of course, it's because they know it can happen (or they wouldn't be raising the point).
How can you tell if a politician is lying? (I'm sure someone knows the answer...)
He's been brainwashed. There is no God!
Great, then rape is also God's will. So are all other criminal acts against humanity!
If you believe that God intended for life to begin in "the horrible situation of rape" then you have to believe that God intended for the rape to occur. I can't believe these are the rationalizations of grown people running for elective office. If I was a Republican, I would be so embarrassed by these candidates.
WAKE UP REPUBLICANS: This is what you're looking at if you choose to follow this party. If it were YOUR daughter, would you want her to be faced with such a heartless decision?
Just another example of organized religion systematically oppressing women. We're not so different from the Taliban. As the US continues to dumb down with all this fundamentalist religiosity as a stark symptom, misogyny will escalate.it's really amazing the GOP has allowed the religious right to get them in a chokehold. I'm sure Karl Rove et al can see that if they can't shut these people up, the GOP is doomed. May be very costly this election year.
Crazy! Sooooo crazy
I wonder if any of these knuckle heads have a mother, wife or female family member? Jesus!They are talking about rape like it is a walk in the park.