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. Onu shaibu

    ì will stand on the oposin side because i am a product of rape and i strongly belive that any person who born of rape is unic in other word very special.

    October 24, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  2. Angela Birch

    Well by his logic if you are hit over the head with an ax it is because God intended it to happen. We don't need a justic system it is a case of "what will be will be".
    In addition a woman is supposed to go through rape and then 9 months of pregnancy a with it's risks and then delivery with it's risks because this guy's God has said "what will be will be."

    Sorry but this is a person's life, a person who has been born and the idea that a rapist has the right to not just a few minutes of forcing themselves on you but then you are expected to give up your life and plans and go through a pregnancy, give birth, raise your rapists child and in effect give up the rest of your life to the rapist who has the right to sue you for visitation, refuse to allow the child to be adopted. effectively stay in your life for the rest of your life, no way!! Sorry but this is real life, not a Doris Day song.

    October 24, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  3. Swing Voter in the Heartland

    You just lost yourself the Indiana US Senate seat. Didn't you learn anything from Todd Akin in Missouri???

    October 24, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  4. tactstl


    October 24, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  5. M.T.Richards300

    Is anyone seriously considering voting for this TRICK?

    October 24, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  6. Gallagher

    The Republican


    Tea Party

    'nuf said

    October 24, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  7. Ada


    October 24, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  8. Mickey1313

    What an ignorant pig. I hope he gets what he deserves.

    October 24, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  9. What The Hell

    ***** Where, in the World Do These Idiots Come From???? ***** Any one VOTING for Some One LIKE THIS
    deserves WHAT THEY GET !!!!! Takes an Idiot to Understand an Idiot!!!! *******

    October 24, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  10. Anonymous

    yu r all 2 stupid to contemplate when u begin with a foolish premise the conclusion is sheer madness

    October 24, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  11. GAW

    Diarrhea of the mouth followed by constipation of the brain leads to 5 minutes trying to convince the world that you really didn't mean what you said.

    October 24, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  12. adinfinitum7

    What can I say?

    October 24, 2012 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  13. jerome

    here's no doubt your going to hell....

    October 24, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  14. okiegirl

    The Taliban has got nothing on these guys, next they'll want to keep women out of school since our only purpose is to make babies.

    October 24, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  15. Namestepganie tx

    Go ahead yourself pregnant have not a clue what to do with this GIFT

    October 24, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  16. fandancy

    And to think people like this want to run our country.
    And worse yet, people will actually vote for people like this.
    I wonder how he'd feel if it was his wife or daughter who got pregnant due to a rape?
    I think it's time we have these people take an I.Q. test before they are allowed to seek public office.

    October 24, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  17. jay

    Gotta love it when men expect women to carry a constant reminder of probably the worst thing that ever happened to them inside their bodies for nine months. Then, these women are expected to either raise it with love or surrender it for adoption.
    Listen, HR212 notwithstanding, a two or three celled zygot does NOT have more rights than its' host carrier. Hopefully, this idiot, his co-hort from Missouri and Walsh from my state will all be voted out. Otherwise be ready for the back alleys and coat hangers to take the place of legal abortion, and possibly access to birth control pills.

    October 24, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  18. Steve

    Where do these freaks come from?

    October 24, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  19. Jeff B.

    It is 2012, why are there candidates for public office that still have views from the middle ages? This is why the founders were wise enough to establish a separation of church and state.

    Please vote in this election and use common sense when making your decisions – it is important.

    October 24, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  20. Heartland Voter

    You pulled a Todd Akin!

    October 24, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  21. Jack

    *face palm*

    October 24, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  22. jdm

    FFS, are there any Republican politician capable of NOT mentioning god every time they open their mouth?

    In any case, if it's god's will or not is in the eye of the beholder.

    October 24, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  23. aroomadazda

    So, is he trying to argue that rape is God's will when a pregnancy occurs, but something God condemns when it does not? Crazy!

    I wonder how he feels about our military. If life is so precious, how can he condone any killing? Is it God's will when innocent children are killed by our military? If you pray to God before you go into battle are you asking God to help you break a commandment?

    October 24, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  24. A

    The ideas that these men are expressing are so twisted I have a hard time not laughing. I am horrified that this mindset even exists let alone believed by someone vying for an governing office that would represent me.

    October 24, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  25. soul68

    Well it IS Indiana. No one should be surprised that someone of this level of mental deficiency could even sniff a Congressional candidacy.

    October 24, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
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