(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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After being an RN for 28 years and a mother of 3, I can tell you that making a rape victim go through 9 months of hell and then several days of labor is abusing the victim a second time but a thousand times worse than the actual rape. The lesser of two evils is to have an abortion to prevent permanent damage to the victims body and her mental well-being.
RAPE IS NEVER A LEGITIMATE MEANS OF CONCEPTION!
I am shocked and horrified that a person who believes this is in any position to be elected to office in the United States of Amaerica. Please forgive any grammatical or spelling errors in this comment. I am distressed.
This is such a horrible path to state that a violent and terrible act of violence on any woman, female child, or any one is in any way an act acceptable to any God as Christian people or people of any religious following would accept is so wrong in any way of thinking. There is nothing that can justify conception by an act of violence. This is religious fanatical rationilzation at its worst and most horrifying..
This is very wrong thinking. An act of rape is a violent and horrific thing. To think that the only way to destroy a woman's life is if the pregnancy is physical, to force her to carry the child of an act of violence is wrong. It is continuing the act of violence on her for the rest of her life, and that of bringing up this child or the decision to give it up for the rest of her life. This is the very result of this horrific act of violence that the raper wants. In forcing these victims to bear the child of an act of violence is part of the act of violence, part of destroying that woman's life. Anybody who believes that this is acceptable is just part of that horrible, violent attack on the victim.
Who are you people that can think that it is OK to force a victim of rape to live with this horrific and terrible attack on her for her whole life? How close is this to calling rape a legitimate act of God if there is conception? The woman is the victim! Not the participant! Do you really understand what these people are saying? What if this was your daughter, your wife, your mother, your sister? Would you care for her, support her, love her if she was raped and forced to carry the burden to birth? Would you post pone her job, her entrance to college, her wedding so she could bear this child? Would you accept this child as yours, as your brother or sister, as your grandchild? Would you see this result of rape as a gift from God? No, you would shun the victim, her life would be forever changed, and the child tainted.
Think before you vote!
Ok... Then you raise the child. Unbelievable.
Sperm and eggs make life....not god. This man is disgusting and should crawl back under the rock.
I want to say something but this is so horrible that it left me speechless. I can't think of the charge, maybe false imprisonment, but these GOPers should be arrested for some kind of crime against women. When thinking becomes this warped, facts are denied, and they promote the notion of imprisoning women in an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy in the name of THEIR God – gotta be a crime in there some where.
For any woman to vote Republican is just shocking.
Let's see if Mitt (I'll say anything for the female vote) will unendorse him. He just put an ad up with Mitt saying how great he was.
And this is what Indiana wanted instead of Lugar.....OMG. Straight demo ticket......
I'm sure these guys want to bring back prima nocta as well.
How are you allowed to run for office if in theory your retarded? I'm being serious this guy is delusional, I'm very concerned.
Wow, republican or not, how are these people even allowed to run for office? I'm amazed that, as a society, we haven't demanded better educated, and less ignorant candidates. I think it is an insult to all Americans that an idiots like this can actually run for office. Hopefully, he is just a shrewd politician; and trying to pander to an even more ignorant section of voters. If not, we are all in a lot of trouble.
It's sad to see how far right the Republican Party has moved. I'm an independent who leaned republican but I just can't support the ideology that Limbaugh and Palin have pushed on the GOP. Hopefully the Dems don't begin to move too far left as well or this country is ruined.
Just sick. And these are the people we want to run our country.
And we think men should be castrated after thier first birthing, or second, or by their 30'th birthday since their function as a procreator should have been fulfilled by that time.
Life might be God's gift, but intelligence apparently isn't.
Vote him out.
I bet he's republican. Those cats are wacked!
Comments like these by Todd Akin and now by Richard Mourdock show how dangerously wrong these guys are when they think God sanctions rape when the woman becomes pregnant after the act. Or when they believe if it is a "legitimate rape" somehow the women's body will not allow it to become pregnant. And you know Ryan and Romney believe the same even though they lie about their views so as to get elected. I hope and pray that the American People understand these facts!!!
If anyone honestly believes in an omnipotent god, then obviously this candidate is absolutely correct about the nature of rape. However, he is wrong that it is an argument against abortion. It is an argument against religion.
Here's something that will fuel the Atheists again.
OMG! And to think I was born there, and had to live among ignorant men such as Mourdock. Richard Lugar, I am so sorry that you lost out to this fool. Where do these nut jobs come from and why would any decent Repub support such a dreadful idiot. First Ryan, then Aiken, now this jackwagon. If this is what God intended, he is one creepy uncle, and if this is God's will, then perhaps Mourdock would volunteer to be a recipient of his own theory. Shame, shame, shame, Indiana.
Wow! Not surprised typical Republican!
Another one of GOP crazies putting foot in his mouth. Pathetic.
Funny how these men know so much about rape ame pregnancy. These men have no concept, or consideration, for how a rape victim feels and the devastation that follows the rape once the pregnancy is discovered. How dare they think they should have the right to dictate to a rape or incest victim what they can or cant do with THEIR bodies. Guys, when you get a uterus, then you will have that right.
As a teenage rape victim, I can only look at this man's viewpoint with disbelief and horror. No, I didn't get pregnant, but, at times, even 41 years later, I can still feel the emotional and mental damage it caused. I can only imagine how daily life would be to have a child borne of such an assault as a constant reminder of the selfish control mongerer who forced his will on me. This man is completely void of compassion and empathy. It leaves me wondering if he'd be steadfast in his conviction if his own wife or daughter was a victim of this horrible injustice. If he can justify taking this low road on such a personal issue, I can't help but feel he'd be just as inept at serving in public office. What a callous, unfeeling maggot of a man!