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. saneCanadian

    Another idiot appealing to the moronic base

    October 24, 2012 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  2. John

    I'm a conservative pro-life guy and I find Mourdock's comments to be not only morally offensive but just plain stupid! This idiot gives conservatives a bad name. Note to all idiots who call themselves conservatives....sit down and shut up!!! Stay out of the limelight or your Palin-like stupidity will cause us to lose national elections. What a moron!

    October 24, 2012 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  3. Chris

    This guy is an idiot

    October 24, 2012 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  4. tosser

    So is this dude endorsing rape? If so, I'm on board.

    October 24, 2012 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  5. allens

    the republicans are out of control/they have lost their minds and are still being voted in. what is wrong with people?

    October 24, 2012 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  6. Sandra

    Wow, how so 13th century of him.. Ok, I don't believe in his religious dogma nor his 'God', so why should MY uterus be dictated by his beliefs?

    October 24, 2012 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  7. jesuetheus

    God's will was also undertaken as Catholic priests molest little boys.

    October 24, 2012 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  8. Bob Logan

    So I guess with that logic that dying by murder is God's will? or child abuse is God's will? How do these people get to be politicians? This man is certifiable...

    October 24, 2012 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  9. Me

    These extremist idiots scare me.

    October 24, 2012 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  10. jojo

    Really???? Burning of the witches in 1500's was also considered god's will..... I am just saying ...2012 anyone?

    October 24, 2012 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  11. God Almighty

    I think American politicians are even more stupid with their religious ideas than the psychotic bunch in the middle east. This one simply beats the lot.

    October 24, 2012 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  12. IK

    This man is unfit to claim a seat in our government, regardless of his political affiliation.

    October 24, 2012 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  13. lilbluepill


    October 24, 2012 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  14. Nate Laabs

    This seriously belongs in The Onion. It's ridiculous that a politician, or, you know, a normal person would say something like that and then expect to backtrack with a, "Well, what I meant to say was..." An embarrassment to Indiana? His party? Senate candidates in general? Our nation?

    Take your pick.

    October 24, 2012 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  15. rick

    Is this dufus serious or just desperately needing votes?

    October 24, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  16. Anniearchist

    Coming from the Right-so not unusual.

    October 24, 2012 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  17. shawn brown

    Is this guy F'ng Insane? Rape pregnancies are God's will? If that is true, then God is no savior of mine and Murdock should drop out of GOP. I now have NO HOPE for our society or Government.

    October 24, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  18. Robert

    I'm sure the athiests and immoralists have already tried to make this candidate sound like an idiot, but he is in fact only saying what has been said by theological scholars since the Apostle Paul and even Jesus himself. God DOES in fact ordain whatsover comes to pass (Colosians), yet He is NEVER the author of sin and He is never responsible for the sin on His creatures. Sounds impossible, doesn't it? Well, that's because, as the theologians also said, "the finite cannot contain the infinite." The humble will understand this and think it wonderful. To the proud and arrogant, this will seem like foolishness.

    So, was it God's will that these women get pregnant from rape? First let me say that God hates all sin and will take vengence on those who commit such atrocities such as rape. Yet, it is what Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery in Egypt thirteen years before, "you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, to perserve many people alive." Did God think it an evil thing that joseph's (son of Jacob) brothers sold him into slavery? Of course He did. But God is infinite and intended it for good as Joseph was now the ruler of Egypt and preserved not just his brothers, but the whole world, with his management of the resorces of Egypt in preparation for a famine.

    So, did God hate that man who raped that woman? I think so. Was God responsible for that sin? Of course not. But was God in control? Of course He was. And did God have a purpose. Yes, but sometimes we won't know that purpose for generations later. It could be a great grandson of that child of rape who saves the world.

    October 24, 2012 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  19. Robert

    P.S. The bottom line is, regardless of how that baby got there, God's command still stands, "Thous shalt not murder."

    October 24, 2012 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  20. gar

    The Republican Party is off the deep end. Aren't any of them sane? The answer is: NO!

    October 24, 2012 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  21. cronewinter

    This man serves a monstrous god.

    October 24, 2012 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  22. paddy

    looks like he got educated in Afghanistan during Taliban period.

    October 24, 2012 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  23. bigsnow81

    U are flippin joking? No, why are you running for office? You should have been aborted.

    October 24, 2012 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  24. NameCarolyn McMahon

    A woman should have the right NOT a man.

    October 24, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  25. Mr. T. Bag

    OMG, I can't believe people are actually dumb enough to support backward Tea-Republican-Christian-Taliban candidates like this. America is truly doomed. Bin Laden would laugh.

    October 24, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
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