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. Mary

    What is wrong with these crazy men?.
    A pregnancy happens for one reason only during a rape. Sperm met egg.

    October 24, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  2. Canadian view

    Unbelieveable, and you folks are voting for guys like this...that is LIKE ROMNEY ??? These are the types of people that back ROMNEY and instill hate. Hate filled, ignorant, right wing, God fearing Republicans. They get you to fear your neighbor, scared of the government, make it all seems like the government will sell you out to Socailism or to China– the more scared the GOP make ya, the more you'll back them because YOU FEAR IT. Sad, empty headed Republicans.

    October 24, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  3. Rick

    and how do these idiots get to as high a position that they are again?

    October 24, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  4. Say what?

    Say what now? Mitt really you endorsed this guy??

    October 24, 2012 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  5. TiredofStupidity

    so tired of stupidity. so when a man brutalizes his 13 year old daughter and gets her pregnant it was the will of "God" and her resulting spawn is a "gift"??? so what about horribly deformed babies? or babies born addicted to crack? or those with horrible diseases? "gifts" from "God"??? And before you can post about the effects of sin and man's sinful fallen nature and all that just remember one thing. If you believe in the bible's God, there never would have been evil or sin had he not stupidly created the angel who became 'satan' and then cast him to earth after his so called 'fall'.

    How i EVER thought the bible to be truth is beyond me. when read correctly it reveals a monster 'god' who is no better than the twisted humanity 'he' created.

    October 24, 2012 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  6. Disgusted

    How is it that people are voting for this loser? He is an abomination to politics. With candidates like these, it's only a matter of time before all people are subjugated to laws as draconian as those in extremist Taliban led areas of the Middle East. How is it that the Tea Partiers with their smaller government ideas are backing an extremist that wants the government into all of our bedrooms and private parts??

    October 24, 2012 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  7. bethe57

    This article confirms I will not be voting Republican AT ALL.

    October 24, 2012 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  8. Judy

    I only wish it could happen to you, Richard Murdock. You would probably think differently. Since it can't, I suggest you keep your stupid opinions to yourself.

    October 24, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  9. GregE

    Ignorance has no bounds

    October 24, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  10. God Says Whatever I Imagine Him to Say

    Are you freeking kidding me??? Where do I begin? "God wants..." - Oh so this guy has a direct line in, eh? The challenger is no better with his "not MY god, he would never want that...blah blah" Pure fantasy on display here and a naked picture of how ridiculous religion is with everyone getting to determine what god wants, wills or otherwise wishes.

    WAKE UP AMERICA. God is a fantasy created by primitive men with no understanding of science or explanations for what a 5th grader can now tell you. But I digress.

    October 24, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  11. Bob

    Why would any woman vote for a man..........period. It's bad enough that they think they OWN YOUR BODY, but just the idea of them making decisions about your health and well being is flabbergasting to me. You vote GOP, you live with these controllers of the womb.

    October 24, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  12. Obama2012 Romney1040

    Why do these guys keep making stupid comments?

    October 24, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  13. reldra

    This caveman made me physically ill.

    October 24, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  14. pam

    God created me and I have 2 hands that can easily castrate this piece of crap with some dull scissors. what a loser! what in the hell is wrong with men that they think they can speak and vote for women's issues?????

    October 24, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  15. CrankMaddog

    Thank you Tea Party!!! Just made this election easier for President Obama. Best quote yet... "This fall I'm supporting Richard Mourdock for Senate," Mitt Romney. Enough said.

    October 24, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  16. Geoff

    Strapping someone to a gurney and injecting poison into their veins until they are dead is God's will too I guess. How can a candidate be "pro-life" and support execution? It's impossible. It's one more strike against the Neanderthal republicans and anyone who supports their brand of politics is an idiot and deserves the crap government you get!

    October 24, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  17. Gerry Wissiak

    I find it unbelievable what religious zealots will say. In Richard Mourdock's opinion God will put a woman through the horrendous and terrifying experience of a rape just to put another human being into a world that already has too large a population. What kind of a God does he believe in. Isn't God supposed to be benevolent? In Mourdock's opinion God will apparently do anything just to get what he wants which in this case is another unwanted child.

    October 24, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  18. getalife

    mitt endorsed him amd made an ad for him

    "It is impossible to look at the G.O.P.’s behavior in the last four years — from its unwillingness to consider Obama’s jobs bill, which was praised by independent economists, to the unwillingness of its presidential candidates to consider a $1 increase in taxes for $10 of spending cuts, to the time it spent on sheer lunacy such as questioning the president’s birth certificate — and not conclude that many in the party just wanted Obama to fail in the hope that they could pick up the pieces. Too many Republicans, particularly moderate business types, don’t want to admit how much their party has been led around of late, not by traditional conservatives, but by a radical Tea Party base that has driven decent, smart conservatives — like Bob Bennett of Utah, Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Olympia Snowe of Maine — out of office.

    What I’d say about Obama’s domestic and Middle East policies is that, given the messes and political constraints he inherited in both arenas, he did about as well as anyone could. He kept the homeland safe, prevented us from getting drawn into any sinkholes and killed bad guys. It is not the stuff of foreign policy legend, but it was not bad. I’d say the same at home. He stanched the bleeding in the economy and initiated some smart reforms in education, energy and health" Friedman

    October 24, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  19. WHY?!!

    Why are republicans so crazy?

    October 24, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  20. Tina1649

    Is this man born delusional or does he practice at being an idiot? "GOD" did not do this. A rape is a violent crime and if pregnancy results then it is up to the woman to decide what is done. What an absolute moron.

    October 24, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  21. Jennifer

    Nobody has to twist what he said. We women get it. And we think that what he said was "absurd and sick"!!
    Indiana women should NOT stand for this kind of nonsense!! Vote Democrat, for your own good.

    October 24, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  22. Torgo23

    He says that people shouldn't "twist' his words to mean that God wants rape. Okay. But I actually can't think of another meaning for his words that makes any logical sense. How does Mr. Mourdock believe that God can intend the result (the pregnancy) without intending the cause (the rape)?

    October 24, 2012 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  23. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    And the people of Indiana are voting for him overwhelmingly. Oh boy.

    October 24, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  24. Jack Spears

    To quote "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen" – Well isn't that true for everything else that happens around us? But, to say it like that is sure to raise some eye-brows.

    October 24, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  25. norma jean

    A child born from a rape is "Gods will???????This is such bizarre thinking that it leaves me..a mother and grandmother.....literelly stunned.....The bizarre thinking of some of these men lately has me wondering what kind of world are we living in. Never in my long life have women been subjected to thinking that is so inhuman,vulgar and just unbelievable!!!.....seriously........do you men out there accept this kind of thinking..or are you as appalled asI????

    October 24, 2012 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
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