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. true blue

    Woman, woman, woman you would have to be out of your mind to let these people run your everyday life. your vote is your sons and daughter's so vote wrong it's the end of mankind. PLEASE help us.

    October 24, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  2. factoidjunkie

    Following the line of logic that violence is part of God's will, then it does not follow that an exception should be made for a pregnant woman's life to be spared in the event of a difficult birth. The idea that God's will directs our lives must mean that terrorism is his will, natural calamities are his will, and everything else is his will. If so, then when anyone acts to stop violence, chooses birth control, or makes any choice at all, it is, by this man's view, God's will. I see now the rich connection between Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.

    October 24, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  3. bdby

    This comment ought to go over like a ton of bricks.

    October 24, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  4. Vincent

    "Pregnancies from rape are God's will" ?!?!?
    Im not even sure what to say to this :O .....just .... WOW :O The involvement of the extremist religious right to push their agenda and their medieval views on everyone else is frightening. Do they want to carry everyone back to the dark ages?
    Is this seriously the kind of idiot that voters want to represent 'the people'??

    October 24, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  5. Hiruu

    I guess using this logia would mean 9-11 was also God's will...what a tool!

    October 24, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  6. Sid Airfoil

    Here we see a few of the problems inherent in theism. If god is omnipotent, then everything that happens, including rape, is god's will. If life begins at conception, then there is no excuse for killing it, not even if it resulted from rape. It' also not clear to me how we reconcile the free will of man with the fact that everything is god's will. Ethically and legally, can the rapist (or the thief, or the murderer) use "it was god's will" as his defense?

    I utterly disagree with all of the above, and with this candidate, and I am frightened that anyone with his views could reach the U.S. Senate. But he IS consistent with his own incorrect views. If life begins at conception, then it IS murder, and there is NO case in which it acceptable. That is the ethically consistent view, and "pro-lifers" who make exceptions for rape, incest or life of the other are trying to have their cake and eat it too (or to get elected in a moderate-to-liberal district). But this candidate (and Paul Ryan) represent the TRUE consequences of theistic ethical consistency. And if we don't like it, we should vote for someone else.


    October 24, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  7. dave

    Good grief!

    You're believing a set of rules created by man in the name of an imagined God. By all means, believe in which ever deity you want to....there are thousands to choose from after all, but be sensible and keep it out of politics.

    From an outsider's perspective (i'm not American), you guys really need to work on separating church and state. The influence of religion on politics leads to biased and unfair law making. Rise above it.....for the good of all your citizens. Don't fall into the same trap as the people in countries like Afganistan – Religion has no place in political decision making.

    Good luck x

    October 24, 2012 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  8. lro bennett

    So Richard Mourdock represents the best / brightest Indiana Repubs can come up with?
    Glad I don't live there.

    October 24, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  9. Georgia Fisher

    These men are playing with the devil. Their thoughts are dirty and confused. GOD, never uses evil to CREATE LIFE.

    October 24, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  10. guest

    This guy is a jerk! What idiocy he speaks of!!

    October 24, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  11. snowboarder

    abortion should be safe, legal and infrequent.

    the entire abortion debate is a red herring. abortion simply a symptom of the real problem of unwanted pregnancies and the only way to tackle the problem of unwanted pregnacies is education and the availability of contraception.

    October 24, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  12. Mark

    So a rapist could plead not guilty,on the grounds that he was doing Gods will.

    October 24, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |

    This guy and the tea potty own Mitt the twit. Vote for Romney,you get four years of this.

    October 24, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  14. LS

    His words weren't twisted. He's twisted. Our own Republican Taliban member right here at home.

    October 24, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  15. Gillian Clark

    Mr. Mourdock, I sure hope you DO NOT get elected in November. You are harmful to women's rights and need to learn to keep your mouth shut. If you have no uterus, you have no right to an opinion. How dare you tell me what I have a right to. Men like you are what send us backwards in the rights of women and try to opress our progression since the 50's house wife days. Religion should not be taken into politics, it causes people like Mr. Mourdock to be making decisions based on emotion, not on logic and causes a lack of common sense. It scares me to think what this country will be like if all these religious fanatics like Romney, Ryan and Mourdock get elected. It scares me to think the book the Handmaids Tale from Margaret Atwood may become a reality if these guys get elected. There will be no common sense left and our political system will based totally on personal emotional experiences they have had and any good business person knows, that you don't take your personal life into business.

    October 24, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  16. MOJarry

    You should be jailed for promoting a very serious crime. Then, after you've been raped and given AIDS, you can truly say it was God's will!.

    October 24, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  17. John Galt

    I hate it when a fool opens his mouth and hurts others. I am a republican and this man does not in anyway reflect my values or what I stand for but... I know the libs will eat this one up. Go for it but know you are going after a fool and not the party. How sad someone could think this way. God intended someone to be raped, therefore they must have the baby. Sounds like he needs a bit of prison time in the showers of some state pen to see that maybe that's not really God's way. sick

    October 24, 2012 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  18. mlblogssignedhofbaseballsmuseum

    And why is this race close again? Is this seriously what half of Indiana voters believe? This is a situation where Tea Party voters are similar to horses with broken legs...it's probably time to "put them down".

    October 24, 2012 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  19. mlblogssignedhofbaseballsmuseum

    Why is this race even close, is this truly what half of the Indiana voting population believes? Tea Party members are like horses with broken legs...they need to be taken out back and "put down".

    October 24, 2012 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  20. Lou Cypher

    Should have struggled thinking about this stuff a little longer,
    before opening your piehole.

    October 24, 2012 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  21. Name drwcan

    What a bunch of right-wing, religous wing-nuts. Anyone, especially a woman who votes for these nutcases should go see a psychiatrist.

    October 24, 2012 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  22. James

    Another example of how the Republican Party's social agenda is out of touch with reality. Am I correct in assuming that this is the venue for Republicans to enter the world?

    October 24, 2012 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  23. Elizabeth

    What the heck is in the water in Ohio and Indiana? Wow.

    October 24, 2012 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  24. deansalleh

    This must be happy news for the rapists, for then they are merely doing god's work. Will THE GOP then consider perhaps legalizing rape?

    October 24, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  25. lathebiosas

    I can't believe in the 21st century grown adults are even talking what a imaginary god thinks about rape. Such a person is not fit for office.

    October 24, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
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