(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
Either someone in the audience, the monitor or even the democrat who is running against this moron should have called him out for all of the women who have been raped by fing as22oles.
What an idiot! Richard Mourdock needs to realize that not everyone in this country is religious or Christian, and he and other conservatives should not force their beliefs onto others through legislation. Drink your own Kool-aid!
Women of america please wake up. The republicans are determined to roll back most of the hard
earned rights gained by women over the last 60 years here in america.
This man is sick! You want him in the US Senate? Those of you who have daughters, are they nothing but walking wombs? It doesn't matter what they suffer, they have no rights, no dignity, no freedom? Women are tools of men and God and good only for reproduction? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!? This man shouldn't ne allowed to run for dog catcher!!!
3,000 year old patriarchs don't have the answeres to our present situations. Come into the modern world you tea partiers, the water is refreshing.
Mitt Romney (R) and the Republicans definitely have the pro-rape vote locked up. First Todd Akin (R) and his "forcible rape" bill co-sponsor Paul Ryan (R), then Tom Smith (R) and now Richard Mourdock (R). What does the "R" stand for? Good question.
Worst of all, Romney just cut a video praising Mourdock (the only candidate he's done a video for). Just sickening.
Oh, I almost forgot Bob McDonnell (R) and his government-mandated ******l probes (AKA "State Rape").
I sincerely hope this will be enough for the people not to vote him in. I do not want idiots like this making up even 1% of the United States senate.
Where does the GOP find these bozos, and why on Earth do they run them in elections ???
this is malarkey
These Republicans want less government overall and oppose government run healthcare, yet they still want to involve the government in controlling what someone does with her body. An abortion is between the woman, her doctor, and whatever diety she believes in. NOBODY ELSE SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN THAT DECISION.
Life is a gifty from Jehovah God. Abortion is MURDER.
Unfortunately there are way to many supporters of the GOP loonies who agree with this sickening individual. He has no place in the Senate and anyone supporting him for election should be ashamed.
Typical Republican. What a stupid hic!
Rapists just carry out the will of god, they should not be prosecuted under the law because gods law is the greatest
Does he have a wife, sister, mother, daughter? If one of them was brutally raped by a 400 lb non-white, prison escapee, he would want his wife, sister, mother, or daughter to go through 9 more months of agony reliving it, and he would welcome that child and raise it as his own?
Too ignorant, too much religion.
The republican party seems to be channeling the Taliban.
Sometimes the more people talk the stupider they sound. I have always felt this way about groups like the KKK, etc, and felt – let them talk all they want. People will then see how ridiculous they really are. Same with this issue. My uterus and the fruit of it is mine as it is of my own body. No GOP telling me it isn't mine is going to change my mind just because they say so or their own beleif system says so. Grow your own female reproductive organs and stay the hell outta mine thank you vary much.
Unbelievable. The sad part is that this is so normal, it glazes over people
Any new born life is God's Blessing, but to say the Pain, Torture and Humilation of Rape is God's Will is just plain idiotic. Let Mourdock get gang raped and see if he thinks the same.
These types of comments make me furious! Mourdock may believe what he wants, but he has No right to foist his Personal beliefs on women & certainly not include them in national policy! What is happening to the Republican Party? Who are these people who want to make laws by "Gods words"? What happened to the separation of church & state? The New Extreme Grand Old Tea Party are some very scary people & I'm afraid if Romney takes office, people like these guys & Akin will be who dictates to women of this nation what we are allowed to decide about our own bodies & lifechoices! Every woman should be able to make her own choice whether she wants to put a new life into this world, because it's not just about life, but quality of life! It costs money & takes planning to have a child! It should be a choice made by herself, spouse & doctor! And No woman should be forced to have a child from rape or incest, just because these men have decided it's a gift from God! It belittles those crimes against women!! Obama '12!
You it seems Republicans running for senate have a case of the stupids.....and Richard Mourdock, of Indiana will discover that God willed him not to win this election...and he really shouldn't be too worried about all those women out side with rocks.
Are we really regressing that much as a society? Why does religion continually want to pull us backwards? Rape IS condoned in the bible. At the very least it is not considered a crime against women. It is considered a property crime against the man that has possession of that woman. I cannot wrap my head around how anyone can still take this book of evil fairy tales so seriously.
What is it that Republicans always want to control and decide for women's body? What is the fascination beyond the obvious reason?
Women's body always has been a tool for Republicans to manipulate voters. Did i mention i am a man?
Gop make me sick!