(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
If that's true then abortion must be God's will also.
This man is a lunatic! Lock him away and throw away the key, NOW!
Actually, if you think about it, it's Gods Will that a woman has a choice.
If God intended it to happen, why send the rapist to jail? He was only doing God's will....
Here's an idea... leave the word "god" out of political discussions. There's no need for it.
I am a conservative but cannot back religious-based comments like this. Values are good, blind faith is not if it makes people think absurd "it was god's will" thoughts. However, it is still better that a Socialist state of dependency. If the Dems would quit being so radical they might have a chance on Nov 6.
How many dinosaurs can Americans keep adding to their government and expect a real change..this is embarrassing to say the least. Ahh the dangers of religion in society are to many to keep count of.
so this man is saying, rape is ok ????? another one who believes women should be home, cleaning, cooking and always pregnant, no matter how.
This guy will be a pariah to both parties by morning. I'm a conservative, Christian republican and I can say without a doubt this guy is a wacko and not a position anyone I know would support. He needs to go.
Maybe you should go back and struggle with it some more until you come up with the correct answer, you moron.
I am always amazed at the kind of atrocities, such as rape, or other events that some people believe God has willed to happen.. I suppose that is in line with those who believe in predestination. That depicts a world full of people somehow preprogrammed before birth. That makes human beings little more than automatons with no free will or spiritual accountability.
Here's an idea... leave the word "god" out of political discussions and you won't have to worry about misconstruing your words. There's no need for it.
Way to stay classy Mourdock. I can't believe Indiana's republicans picked him over Lugar. I don't think I know you anymore Indiana
Everything is God's Will ... and if everything can be attributed to God's will, Killings, murders, Robberies .. We can scrap the Justice System, Law enforcement Systems, Military . We can save lot of $$$$ and can get our Debt problem under control ... Isn't it ?
Second-rate proselytising from second-rate politicians is a national outrage.
It's scary that idiots like this are our leaders. And even scarier that many other idiots vote them into office.
so lets get this straight – the God republicans believe in doesn't allow rape, but if it happens gives the woman the "gift" of a child so she remembers constantly that "heinous and horrible crime"????? Not my kind of God – where do these people come up with this stuff??
wow you guys voted for this i d i o t? whats next parental rights for the rapist? completely absurd to the core !
In early May, Mourdock defeated longtime GOP Sen. Richard Lugar in a bitterly contested GOP primary vote, and is facing Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly in November's election.
guess you will not be re-elected
See how ridiculous Republicans are? How can it even be legal for a potential state senator to make such outrageous claims and consider them to be justified by what he refers to as "God's will"? This candidate should be disqualified for not adhering to the separation of church and state when making public announcements such as this. "God" is not a reference that should ever be used by our government representatives or candidates thereof. The mystery of life is JUST THAT and NO ONE but NO ONE in government should be basing his or her mindset on his or her religious beliefs when it comes to the practice of governing citizens.
im a republican, and way to go to sink your own ship
i know several women who would like to run this clown over with a car and say it's gods will.....where to these nut jobs come from?
Great more GOP crazies showing their stripes right before election day!!! Maybe they really need a lesson in reproductive science, oh wait that would take actually believing in science.
The idea is satanic and stems from satans bible the NIV