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. tony

    Pregnancy is the reward a rapist wants. To reproduce with a female that would heartily reject him, and procreate anyway. Thus increase the percentage of vile rapistsand violent criminal behaviour in future generations.

    The obscenely sick and stupid republican mentality wold reverse civilization eventually and send us all back to the "law of the jungle".

    October 24, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  2. Brandon

    God also intended Richard Mourdock to be a complete moron.

    October 24, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  3. Dirk

    Everyone involved in a pregnancy has to make there own decisions and let there own morality guide them. I've been described as pro choice because I can't see how my morality should be weighted any more than anyone elses. I personally don't believe in abortion. The comment I don't agree with that Mourdock made was if the life of the mother is at stake there should still not be an abortion because that is a liberal fantasy so conservatives can be made to look like monsters. Rape and/or pregancy isn't God's will it's Free Will. We decide so God doesn't have to do everything for us.

    October 24, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Its always only a matter of time and the right questions before the teabag breaks and the nut falls out!

    October 24, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  5. Rvits

    Sick. Even more sick that this guy not only thinks he should be in power, but he might actually get voted into power. It blows my mind.

    October 24, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  6. sheader


    October 24, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  7. votehimout

    "God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick,"

    And nobody in this world knows "sick" better than he.

    October 24, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  8. sharoom

    ****ing ridiculous

    October 24, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  9. MashaSobaka

    How long is it going to take in this country before someone would be run out of politics for such a comment?

    October 24, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  10. Wes Scott

    Where does the GOP find these Neanderthals? Oh yeah! The Tea Party! Where else?

    October 24, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  11. JD

    Hmmm, so if someone gets beat up, and as a result something gets broken, then the victim shouldn't go to the hospital to get treated, because hey, the broken limbs must be God's will. Treat only the damage of certain crimes? Rape is such a traumatic experience that anything associated with it needs to be removed, as much as possible, from the victim's life. I don't believe in abortion generally, but certainly in the case of rape i am all for it. God does not condemn the victim of rape for an abortion.

    October 24, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  12. deder914

    Who does this idiot think he is? How can he speak on this issue when he will never be pregnant from rape? Ask a woman who got pregnant from a violent rape if she thinks it's God's will and see what kind of answer you get.

    October 24, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  13. Nameetty

    Another GOP hack really are women willing to stand by as we get attacked by the Taliban in our own country wake up, next thing we won't be able to vote. Where do these men come from???

    October 24, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  14. Jim


    October 24, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  15. jon

    Are ALL Republicans crazy??? It would sure seem so.

    October 24, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  16. sam

    IDIOT! Nothing else to say. What if it was your wife, daughter?

    October 24, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  17. welllookiehere

    "Mourdock has enjoyed support from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who traveled to Indiana in August to campaign for the tea party-backed candidate alongside former Vice President Dan Quayle and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Romney has also appeared in a television ad for Mourdock."

    Birds of a feather flock together.

    October 24, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  18. laurel

    This man cannot ne for real. If it happened.to his daughter, would he feel.the same way?

    October 24, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  19. What

    What? Religion has gottaaa go.

    October 24, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  20. Namebigdaddy

    Kinda scary how republicans think, ain't it?

    October 24, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  21. TreeTopFlyer

    Yeah ok......Then that must also mean that rape and incest is a "gift from God" too.....what an idiot.

    October 24, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  22. garrado


    October 24, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  23. Weasley

    Then fine, Senator Dip Stick, if you think conception as a consequence of RAPE is a beautiful act of God, then maybe you should have the baby. But since that isn't possible, maybe you should volunteer to adopt each and every child that is conceived from rape.

    October 24, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Welp...here we go again...

    October 24, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  25. Dan Johnson

    Great! Now I can blame God for killing two of my kids in a car wreck. The next mass murderer can claim it was God's will. We're all off the hook for anything we do cause God is pulling all the strings anyway.

    Jeez what an idiot. And what a comment on how sad we've become as a country that we'd even consider electing folks with that kind of mindset.

    October 24, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
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