(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
Gawd, What a loser Dork!
The GOP needs to rid itself of its vermin.
It's the only way they will ever become credible again.
omg what is wrong with these people, these republican men who continue to make these type of comments and a message to all of you, get the hell out of women's rights to live their lives as they choose, not be dominated by narrow minded bigots, such as yourselves
And, again, this is why there is no place for religion in politics. Trying to turn a frown upside down – when the frown is a law being broken and the smile is a religious ideology – is ridiculous.
Maybe one of his family members will be "lucky" enough to receive such a "gift" and then we'll see how if he maintains his position. My guess is he won't.
If this happened to his wife or family member he wouldn't think it was "God's Will".
Thanks for Indiana, Tea Party.
What do we say to those people alive today who were conceived during a rape, that they are less valuable than others? Of course not. Mr. Mourdock is correct.
When someone gets raped its who will, you believe that his will is to see to it that women are raped. By that same turn murder is his or her will, this god you've tied yourself to, please. Do not vote republican where ever you are in America, this disease of moronism is afflicting to many of the republican party. Keep your distance from these "people", you may become infected. Really, I mean Really. This is what the republicans are offering America. You may have the right to express your views and your choice of deity, but you might want to talk to the mothership before you tell the world.
OMG. Sometimes, many times, good things happend to bad people ad bad things often happen to good people. God does not have a hand is everything. He plays no part in the rape and murder of these little girls, some buried alive. No way. Some times horrible things happen and if I became pregnant by a rapist God help the person who would try to force me to have it.
Welcome to the Senate Mr. Joe Donnelly
This guy is a moron,how can he describe rape and pregnancy is a gift of God? he is a lunaticI hope he don't have daughters,I bet he will not say something like that! his sick and not matter if he try to fix the words is too ate .....he said it!
What a lunatic! I can't believe he's ahead in the polls!
This is why I don't worship a God. It's funny listening to all these religious fanatics arguing about what God wants or doesn't want. Or that when there is a disaster, it's "Mother Nature", but when something good happens, it's a "miracle" from God. Give me a break!
Are these Republicans scary or what? It is unimaginable to me that any woman in America would vote Republican. Wake up women, wake up before it's too late!
Oh crap. Now rape is ordained by God. What rocks are these people hiding under?
Nice to see that the IQ requirement for politicians remains in the single digit range...
BTW, I understand if you are raped that you don't want to have the kid, maybe I wouldn't myself, I don't know.
But once I met a guy who was a adopted, his biological mother was raped.
He became a very successful architect, I mean, got new parents, went to college, moved well in society and he did great.
So I can understand some points of views like the article, you never know.
I'm confused. God didn't intend for the rape to happen, but he did intend for the baby to be conceived? Where do the Republican's find these guys?
If by God he means Baal Peor, then he is correct
Why is it okay for politicians to say moronic things in the name of a deity? Why do politicians think they know what their god likes/dislikes? Oh...that's right! It is all made up! By people (usually men) to CONTROL people. Religion and politics were made for each other.
Now how many times does something like this need to be said by someone within the GOP before we come to the conclusion that this is the prevailing mindset of their party?
If you were beginning to wonder if the Republican party has completely lost it's collective mind, just pay attention they'll remove all doubt.
If conservatives were just a little smarter people would like them much more.