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. charles

    Dem's it time to pop some bottles. Hooray!!!!

    October 24, 2012 04:56 am at 4:56 am |
  2. Howard

    How on Earth did the Republican Party manage to so successfully corner the market in political idiots and intellectual nincompoops?

    Or is it that Republican candidates will say ANYthing if they think it will cause the dumbest people within earshot to vote for them?

    October 24, 2012 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  3. Kelsang Drime

    It is really unfortunate that this man is a man and not a woman and that the man hasn't experienced "God's Will" as he so stupidly puts it.

    October 24, 2012 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  4. AM75

    May be that is how he must have been born. Beyond pre-historic and neanderthal in his thought process

    October 24, 2012 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  5. nokoolaidcowboy

    I love it when the Repubs continue to show who they really are!

    October 24, 2012 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  6. Haime 52

    It's biology, stupid! No woman should be forced to carry a child of rape to term. She may not be able to give it up, as she may now have an attachment to th child she carried for nine months, and yet, may hate that child for what he/she represents.

    October 24, 2012 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  7. armycommando

    If Richard's teenage daughter got raped by some old creep in the park, then got pregnant, is he going to tell his teenage daughter that it's God's will?

    October 24, 2012 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  8. ronda

    What the hell is wrong with people!!! When you are raped and you get pregnant from it its not gods will that baby wasn't made by to people how love each other and is married no women should feel obligated to keeping a pregnancy because of it..

    October 24, 2012 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  9. Katy Heys

    This guy is an idiot. What is wrong with us that people who are so ignorant are being voted into government offices? Wake up America, get an education before it is too late. The rest of the world is laughing at us .

    October 24, 2012 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  10. Axel123

    Maybe Richard should adopt those children then and put his money where his mouth is. Wonder how he would feel if his daughter was pregnate through rape. Go crawl back under that rock you came out of.

    October 24, 2012 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  11. Allen

    Let's be honest with ourselves. Most Republicans believe this.

    October 24, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  12. thanos

    We gotta get these religious nuts out of politics!

    October 24, 2012 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  13. BlackSheep

    This is what your god thinks about rape. If the girl, her father's property, is a virgin, then the rapist must pay the father 50 shekels of silver, that is the price of a virgin bride, to the father, who is the owner of said property, and she has to marry her rapist.

    God's only concern is, that the father get the most money, for his damaged property.

    October 24, 2012 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  14. louitje

    again crazies that don't know a thing about a woman's body. again people that want to control your body. they are so pro life that life of the woman/mother, wich was a little girl before that, and even a foetus before... is not as important as the foetus she will be carrying.
    they are so anti governement control ,except for sending the government in your whomb... hippocrysies when you get me...

    October 24, 2012 05:08 am at 5:08 am |
  15. nj

    My God says rapists should be put to death.

    October 24, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  16. Anonymous

    same GOP, different day.

    October 24, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  17. Greg

    Following his logic then, if a woman has an abortion (even if god is against it), and the abortion is successful, then terminating the pregnancy was also god's plan. Really, how do these people obtain positions of responsibility let alone positions of power?

    October 24, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  18. blkwdow

    Oi vey! What the heck is wrong with this guy???

    October 24, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  19. Cyric


    October 24, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  20. Matt

    Unfortunately for Mr. Mourdock, it is also God's will that he lose the election.

    October 24, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  21. blkwdow

    What a foolish thing to say...

    October 24, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  22. Squincher

    And so.....the ongoing saga of the American Tea-laban's War on Women continues................

    October 24, 2012 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  23. sam stone

    wow. just when you thnk they cannot get any nuttier, they come up with this. a child via rape is a gift from god? no exception to save the life of the mother?

    they are working hard to fire up the faithful base........

    abortion, gays......the sky is falling! the sky is falling!

    jesus is coming, and he looks pi$$ed....

    October 24, 2012 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  24. sam stone

    wow. just when you thnk they cannot get any nuttier, they come up with this. a child via rape is a gift from god? no exception to save the life of the mother?

    they are working hard to fire up the faithful base........

    abortion, gays......the sky is falling! the sky is falling

    October 24, 2012 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  25. DonK

    Looks like another knuckle dragging "christian" right wingnut has finally crawled out from under his rock.

    October 24, 2012 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
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