(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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"God does not want rape..."
Q1: then why does he allow it?
Preventing it would impinge on free will...
Q2: whose? The victim or the rapist?
Q3: why would God allow a rape simply so that a child, likely unwanted, certainly a painful reminder of the attack, could be brought into this world?
Q4: why does God feel the need to torment the victim this way?
There you go. Let religion run your government. Brought to you by the GOP.
Welcome back to the Dark Ages.
We don't need Christian Ayatollahs
What is with these conservative candidates? God's will? I guess in some convuluted world maybe. If they are truly religious, they know that God gave us free will and the ability to make decisions of right and wrong. He also then, also gave the ability to perform abortions, the technology to prevent pregnancy and made gay people.
What he did not give us is the right to pass moral judgement on others.
obviously it should be the victim who decides if they are able to look past the brutal crime and not have a perpetual reminder of their pain.
You have got to be kidding. God's will that a rape victim becomes pregnant? I think we've finally gone too far with the religious zealots. First it was "the Earth is only 5000 years old and that evolution never happens", to God wants a woman who is brutalized, traumatized and violated to get pregnant with a child that comes from an obvious evolutionary failure. I suppose it's God's will that when a woman takes birth control that she doesn't get pregnant? Or is it the chemicals in the pill? I just hope God has a sense of humor.
The next thing this yahoo will say is that the Holocaust was intended by God...
rape are intended by God.
Republicans = Idiots.
what an idiot. I wonder what his wife, mother and/or daughters would say about his belief.
I don't think I will ever be able to vote for another republican again. This is the stuff that is killing the party. I'd rather let the democrats give all our money away than let idiots like these hold office. Disgusting.
I think all the chauvinists in the GOP need to step down and get their perverted little Mitts off of women's bodies. I don't want to hear about their spiritual struggles when it comes to other people's struggles to keep their reproductive rights and other personal decisions concerning our families intact. How dare they violate women's rights that way? I'm sick and tired of these prehistoric fools thinking that they can treat women like second class citizens. Honestly, I think they're all insane and drinking the same kool-aid if they think that American women will fall for their lies. The uneducated women in Iran may fall for it, but I would hope that most women here are smarter than that.
The egyptian Sun God "Horus" was born of a virgin, had 12 disciples, died on a cross, was reborn after 3 days etc. Gilgamesh from mesopetamia? same sh!t....Attis of Phrygia? Born Dec25 of a virgin, body was bread, died by crusifiction, resurected after 3 days...Romulus...Odysseus...Krishna..Buddha...Mithris..Odin..Prometheus and so many more it's ridiculous...even Joseph from the Old Testament..THEY ARE ALL THE SAME STORY..all told before Jesus was ever "born". He never existed..religion is a system of control...learn your history..these are stories of the 12 major constellations "circling our Sun" and a description movements of the sun through the seasons & ages they represent by ancient cultures....bedtime stories for kids and those who wish to use your fear of the unknown (death) to justify murder, rape, judgement of others as they see fit. Sadly most people who are religious are good folks...just uneducated on the validity of their beliefs. watch the zeitgeist for a more thorough analysis...or just sheep away and think millions that die & suffer every year at the hands of evil men are all part of "God's Plan"
Evlangelical "christians" are exactly like their Muslim borthers. They want to control women.
They also said slavery was God's will, and gays having no rights was God's will, and women not being allowed to own property or vote was God's will.
I think we are losing the war on terror, the Taliban have infiltrated our society at the highest levels.
The bible does give rape as a way for a man to get a new wife and some people still call it a good book, not me.
This God's will excuse is stupid. If everything that happens is "Gods Will" (in this case pregnancy from rape), then wouldn't abortion be God's will as well? Can't have one at not the other. Totally hypocritical.
Richard Murdock's comments about abortion is another reason why the citizens of Indiana made a huge mistake in choosing Murdock over Lugar in the Republican primary for this year's US Senate race. Murdock is too extreme and has "no filter". Because of this comment and others that he has made over the past year, if elected to the US Senate, he will be more of a problem for the state of Indiana. The citizens of Indiana really made a mistake in 2012's Republican primary and truly made the wrong choice. My fear is that Indiana will truly regret their decision.
Wow. Just wow. What a complete idiot. To suggest that his imaginary creator intends for such a horrific act against an innocent woman is in some 'plan' is truly horrific. What's wrong with these people?
No sir, you're sick for believing in that horrible notion and for believing in a god that would allow rape to happen. Theocrats, go back to Europe!
that man is an idiot
Are comments necessary?
NEWS FLASH -– Republican makes dumb comment about rape.
ANOTHER NEWS FLASH -– The sky is blue.
It's the end of the world. I quit.