(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.
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
"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.
Also on the CNN Political Ticker
- GOP Senate candidate accuses Dems of distorting his rape comments
- Clint Eastwood returns, stars in new super PAC ad
- Obama ad uses ghost of recount past
- Romney campaign and allies far outspending Democrats
Well that is the religious right for ya, just so you know when you support the abolition of Separation of Church and State these are the people you are supporting, people that will impose a Christian theocracy upon us that will rival the oppression of sharia law.
Great, use God to legitimize pregnancy from rape. Mourdock just downgraded human back to animals.
wow, just wow....the gop and its supporters are going lower every day. i wonder how they get elected to office. these people hate women and encourage stupidity...i blame religions in all these. and here i thought talibans and fanatic arabs were bad...
Is the GOP house turning into the laughingstock of the world? Should we also stone those that are not following your beliefs?
This is the kind of mindset we do not need representing citizens from Indiana. This man misled us during his campaign against Sen. Lugar. We must prevent him from having any authority to hurt women and their healthcare, to hurt our seniors by taking away the protections and advantages of obamacare, to hurt children by cuts to funding education, to hurt our veterans by decreasing funding the programs for their welfare and job creation our president has put forward, & risking our economic security by decreasing regulations associated with investment banks,
Who new, all this time, rapists have been doing gods work.
Wow, no words.
God knows every life before they are born. He also gave man free-will and that is why there are hideous acts such as rape and incest... man choses these sins. Unfortunately, the sin nature can also produce a life. That being said, I cannot begin to imagine the decisions that must be made after such a violation has occurred – and I am female. To have a man assume to try and dictate a woman's decision after the crime leaves me speechless.
Well, Dick, which is it? Either god wanted the woman to be raped so she would get pregnant, or god didn't want the woman to get raped in which case the pregnancy is not a gift from god. Or, how about this option? There is no god. Rape is committed by angry men with twisted minds. And these christian taliban want to make sure a woman is reminded of her violation every day. Why don't you move to Afghanistan or Somalia, Dick. I think they have a religion you'll really appreciate.
Murdock said that he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger but not for a pregnancy due to rape. So what happens when that child grows up to become the spitting image of his psychopath father and destroys his mothers life? Who pays for the welfare of the mother and child? Does this Mourdock nut also believe that the rapist SOB's be allowed parental right over their rape conceived children?
The far right is eerily similar to the Taliban... They are both strongly religious, narrow minded, and fanatical about their "Holly Books" and prophesy.... and women and children are always their victims.. not much has changed since the stone age... eh?
Sounds like his god sucks.
Just have these republicans with such views raped and may be that will change their opinions on what really rape is. Or, may be this man has fathered a few children by raping innocent girls and women.
Well, when you mix religion and politics, you have idiots like this running the show. In a country where we're supposedly free to believe in whatever religion we chose, why are we basing our policies that everyone has to follow around religious beliefs?
Hey you mean it's God's sperm, not rapist's?
How on eath can ANYONE be so ignorant and insensitive about the pain and suffering of others. These gentlemen filter everything through their narrow religious prism, and are completely out of touch with reality. The US is a secular country, with no room for narrow minded religious doctrine trying to pass for public policy. These radical views are not much better than the Taliban.
At this point I'm starting to wonder if there is some kind of fiendishly clever democrat plot to infiltrate the GOP with these "manchurian" candidates... I mean I know the Tea Party has more than it's fair share of ignorant bigots but really...
"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," he continued.
His words are sick enough. I never wish harm to people but I wish he would get the oportunity to tell that to a meber of his family. stay out of others pants meddling idiot trying to justify being anti abortion-just say you are don't make it god's will. like they say if men got pregnant, abortion would be a right.
Rape is always Yahweh & Jesus' will, they wouldn't of allowed the rape to happen if they didn't want the rape to occur.
Yahweh even raped an unknowing Jewish teenage, so he could be born as Jesus, so Yahweh knows rape well.
WOW who are these MEN to have the right to say how we, the survivor of a rape, should handle our situation and what gives them the right to force their religious beliefs on us. These type of people are very very dangerous to mankind.
The God I know won't be voting for Mourdock!
this is the most obscene application of the predestination approach that I have ever heard,. unfortunately while the candidate can experience rape he cannot experience pregnancy. Hopefully it is gods will that he not be elected.
Personally I have a higher opinion of God than this guy and the free will to vote against him.
The spin is strong in this one. Surely you can back up your story with a video of him saying word for word "pregnancies resulting from rape are intended by God" .
You sound like a bafoon Mr. Mourdock.Just end the life and let be the judge,didn't he said in your Holy book;"Justice is mine"...So you could rest your souk and mind andd let others live and be judged accordingly.
This is what you are electing. A person who stand with rapists and against women. Well if god will sort it all out anyway and everything is gods will then why do republicans even make the effort to vote ? This religious cop out is one of the worst I have ever heard. All you women out there, with this kind of thought process you really think you will be treated fair ? If you do you need your head examined far before you need a OBGYN examination.
I thought only kids played doctor.