(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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first of all rape or incest are demonic Jesus said he came to give life and life more abundantly the thief comes to steal kill and destroy. God does not wish that on anyone. second i certainly understand not being for abortion but using rape or incest as a platform for extreme stand on antibortion is just deplorable god help us for showing a lack of love which is not representative of God
How can anyone so utterly stupid get to be even a "candidate" for the Senate????? The only thing I can come up with is that the people of Indiana are utterly stupid as well. This guy is scary. he makes me afraid, very afraid. These people have no grip on reality whatsoever.
Are the repubs the first religious party?
I'm sure his wife Marilyn would be delighted to get raped just to prove that God is keeping a loving, watchful eye on them...
I thought the female body had some weird way of shutting that whole thing down? GOP taliban, what a bunch of dim koooks.
Ah, the finest and the best of the Republican Party... What a collection of whack jobs that party has become?
So, let me get this right: according to Richard Murdock, God is intentionally allowing women to be raped?? Wow, stupid just got more stupid. And, we wonder why people around the world hate this country.
This man is clearly out of his friggin mind and should not be elected for anything. Nut jobs like this give true Christians a bad rap.
I would like someone to explain to he how a child conceived by an illegal act (rape) can be considered 'a gift from God'?
I didn't even have to read the article to guess that the guy (and of course it's a guy) saying this was Republican.
A real jerk with a bad wig..
Hide your kids
Hide your wife.
These people REALLY need to keep their religious views to themselves. Either it's Gods will or impossible to get pregnant when you are raped. Which is it.
Okay, so let's recap the position of Republicans on rape: There is a distinction between "rape" and "legitimate rape." And while "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy, when it does "it is something God intended to happen." All we need now is the Republican definition of "illegitimate rape." Might that be the rape of a woman who cannot produce a long-form version of her birth certificate within 24 hours of the attack? The Republican Party, led by Romney, does not need any outside help to "look unreasonable." The GOP is the party that is still fighting the Cold War of the 1980s, still advocating the social policies of the 1950s, and still advocating the reckless, debt-expanding tax cuts of the 1920s that led to the Great Depression. Romney is their standard bearer, the self-anointed "extremely conservative" former governor of Massachusetts who has insulted America's closest ally, the United Kingdom on the eve of the London Olympics. Romney says that government doesn't create jobs, but that he knows how to create them and should therefore be elected the head of government in order to create 12 million of them out of whole cloth. Romney says that he will balance the federal budget by cutting taxes for the wealthy, eliminating unspecified deductions, and hoping for an expanded tax base while increasing the rate of growth of Pentagon spending. Romney would raise the age of eligibility for recipients of Social Security and Medicare, eliminate federal funding for Medicaid and place the burden of caring for the poor squarely on budget-constrained state governments, eliminate federal funding of research, infrastructure, federal college-student loans, and cancer screenings for women offered by Planned Parenthood. Why would any woman or man want to cast a ballot for Romney? Unless, of course, you are a stockholder in a bayonet manufacturing company...
Sin is NEVER God's will. He needs to go back to Sunday School, or repent or something. What a numbskull!
Why aren't we hearing more abou this, considering that Romney put out an ad to endorse Mourdoch? I hope the DNC and Obama for America pounces on this.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HIM!?!? just be happy he's not running for president.
I was actually toying with the idea of voting for Romney. But when I read this depraved idiot's words, I'm reminded that voting for any member of the GOP might as well be a vote for the Taliban. There really is no difference between these swines and the Taliban. I suppose now when ever some criminal rapes a woman his defense is going to be god made him do it! The GOP should get out of our bedrooms and out of our bodies. Pigs – all of them!
I cant believe god wills a woman to be raped and then have a fool like mourdock say its gods will what we dont need is men like that in a office of power and having his brand of religion willed on america
These ultra right Republicans are totally insane and have absolutly no respect for a woman's right to make choices about their own bodies. It is time for a definite separation of church and state as set forth by our founding fathers.
Such Republicans profess both an absolutely pro-life argument, but at the same time want to cut benefits for the "slackers" in our society. This is a recipe for streets full of starving women and children much like many third world countries. Add to that the denial of medical care for those without insurance and we are heading for a life of hell and suffering for these unwanted children.
The US is rapidly going backward in social and ethical development. We are losing our credibility and the respect of the civilized world with such extreme opinions.
Of course, CNN doesn't accept Mourdock's explanation and, instead, exploits his first remark by putting it as the headline in order to try and gain support for the Democrats.
Oh Jesus, please save me from your followers!
I think its god's will that I slap you across the mouth for being a complete pile of dook. Your god made satan (so you say) therefore creating evil. Of course satan can't be better than god at anything so god is still more evil than satan. If god is the alpha and omega, then he knows the begining and the end. He knows you are going to get raped. he creates the rapist.
I'll never stand by your worthless god. And if I die and meet him. He'll get a slap across his stupid god mouth from me for being a worthless, neglectful, and abusive "father".
Stay classy America.