(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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Wait a minute at first I thought I had logged onto Al Jazeer TV?? Really I never thought as a woman that I would feel that God's Ousted People (GOP) has become the TALIBAN of the US. How anyone with a logical mind could think this way. The WAR on women has gone on enough. Next thing you know women will not be able to VOTE!!!
Either God controls everything, or He controls nothing – either we aren't responsible for anything we do, or we're responsible for everything we do. God doesn't mistakes, we do. Not complicated.
Any woman anywhere considering voting for any of these misogynistic throwbacks should really think things through and vote for someone who believes you are actually a human being instead.
This is the kind of republican party that I am afraid of....
And Romney with his ever changing positions might join them....
Well ... in that case the person who committed rape should be acquitting himself by saying to himself that he was just an agent to accomplish god's wish. Again , if life is god's grace then what is death ? Is that god's wish ? If everything is god's wish then why should we have law – we should be a banana republic where god rules.
I really don't think he can speak for God. Politicians who think they can interpret
Gods will from a rape or any action for that matter and then shape public policy based on his own interpretations are extremely deluded and dangerous.
Well if the roll were reversed and he were a woman who was raped, I think he would change his tune! Idiot!
I'm all for accountability for one's actions and choices, but rape isn't a choice. The pregnancy that results shouldn't be held to the same accountability as one entered into by consensual intercourse.
Why is it only Republican candidates that speak so ignorantly and ridiculously about women? I have yet to see a Democrat speak in that way about women. It might be because, well...they care?
First Todd Akin, now this joker? Yep, I am convinced that Republicans are not looking out for women's rights or freedoms. Good luck in November.
So was the rape itself God's will? If not, then that would be a double standard.
And Mitt Romney just cut an ad for this guy. The Republican Party is a bunch of anti-women, anti-gay, anti-Latino nutsjobs. Akin and Mourdouck both believe women deserve to be raped. Republicans are unfit to lead.
What is wrong with these people? I guess I am incredibly slow because I fail to understand how these people haven't been weeded out of the gene pool due to their stupidity.
Doesn't know too much about sperm.
Sending a donation to Donnelly right now. Have been forced to also support Claire McCaskill. I am not a big fan of either of these Democrats, but allowing idiots like Akin or Mourdock into a position of power with their incredibly naive "God decides all" viewpoint just cannot be allowed to happen. Hopefully, God will step in, and make both these men lose their elections!
This man cannot be elected to any public office. Ever.
Keeping this idiot out of the U.S. Senate by having him self implode is "something God intended to happen."
another example of a form of "crazy" unique to American society.
Too bad we have this sort of idiots running for office, no matter the party.
What an idiot, and he'll probably win anyway. Sad, sad, sad.
How in hell could Richard Mourdock know what a god's intentions are? Gods do not exist, therefore it follows that Richard is delusional. The reason that our nation is in big trouble is that we keep electing idiots like him. Jesus !
I hope you are happy with your story Kevin Liptak. Which part of this pile of b.s. did you think was newsworthy?
And people wonder why atheism is on the rise?
I literally almost threw up when I read this, what a d-bag. Only a male politician would say pregnancies resulting from Rape are a gift from God.
Romeny is disagreeing. What a lie.
Wow. First Akin, now this demented firebreather from Indiana. Let"s bring back the Salem witch trials while we're at it, boys. If this is what's running for the Senate these days, the economy is the LEAST of our problems. If Romney doesn't offer a prompt disclaimer on these lunatics, then we oughta consider him a willing accomplice and treat him accordingly on Nov 6. Seems like the Taliban is alive and well and living in America's heartland. Be afraid. Be very afraid.