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. Anonymous

    So if a women decides to kill herself because she was raped and can't handle having this baby grow inside her and give birth "then" will you consider her life in danger?

    October 24, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  2. RJ

    How can any woman vote for republican. Many will say well Romney did't make this crazy statement but you have to consider the people who will come into powerful positions if Romney/Ryan and the other 1950's repulicans get into office.

    October 24, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  3. Max Imus

    Does this guy feel the taste of foot in his mouth?

    October 24, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  4. Kate B

    The ignorance of many GOP candidates is staggering...no cases of pregnancy where a woman's health or life are in danger?! Only 460,000 or so cases a year in the USA...but don't let potentially almost 1/2 a million women left blind, brain-dead, or severely handicapped stop you from forcing your religious craziness on everyone. That there is even a question of these people winning, is revolting. At least the views are openly trumpeted, instead of behind closed doors - which they run on "economics", when wheat they really want is a Christo-Fascist nation.

    October 24, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  5. jd_now

    Conservatives could save a lot of time and confusion if they just came out and said, "Women are property, and men are free to treat them as such".

    October 24, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  6. RobTheCollector

    Isn't it amazing what hillbilly morons decide they want to get eleted so they can tell us lesser folk how to conduct our lives?! I especially like how the guys says, "Of course God doesn't WANT rape", (yet He can't seem to prevent them), but by golly, if God wants a rape victim to get pregnant, well He can just make that His will and that's that: Preggers. Can't see any contradiction there, can we?

    It's backwards clowns like Mourdock who give Repiblicans a bad name. I'm a lifelong Republican, and I'd never vote for a dolt like this (and I've never voted for Michele Bachmann, for that matter).

    October 24, 2012 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  7. Joe from NJ

    Mr. Mourdock, shut up. Please, just shut up!

    October 24, 2012 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  8. angryersmell

    Considering most of these people believe themselves to be experts on all things Christian, it seems odd they are unfamiliar with the work of The Devil.

    October 24, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  9. angryersmell

    Considering most of these people believe themselves to be experts on all things Christian, it seems odd they are unfamiliar with the work of The D3vil.

    October 24, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  10. angryersmell

    But I am a moderate? This makes no sense.

    October 24, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  11. debbyv

    Besides the exam room these pro lifers need to stay out of women's bodies they are not married to.

    October 24, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  12. jesus

    God wants me to win the lottery

    October 24, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  13. Daniel

    This is a nut job! To think he is in a place to make decisions scares the crap out of me.

    October 24, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  14. What

    Wow. This man is a complete moron.....

    October 24, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  15. Bernie

    No end to this Group Of Prophets.

    October 24, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  16. Satan

    Man, am I glad these nut jobs keep coming out of the woodwork. Makes my job a little easier every day!

    October 24, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  17. Sean

    Yet another example how the Taliban is alive and well in the U.S.

    October 24, 2012 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  18. Angela

    Wow! Any woman who wants to votes Republican needs to check this article out.

    October 24, 2012 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  19. Jimm

    What is with these GOP men and rape?

    October 24, 2012 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  20. Chris Willett (Buffalo NY)

    Look, I'm disappointed with Obama and the Democrats. But I won't for a second consider voting for a party of religious extremists. Reagan understood the separation of church and state; today's Republicans could be called the "American Taliban" when it comes to many issues of personal freedom.

    October 24, 2012 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  21. Anonymous

    I do so enjoy hearing men talking of rape, the effects or such an incident(immediate,short term and long term) as if it is something that seemingly only a women's issue. Moreover, their concern for the health and well-being of the potential child(for as long as it is in-utero that is) is heartfelt....Wonder if these men ever considered 2 simple points...1. Who was the rapist(guessing that was most likely a male)? 2. Do these men realize that rape could happen to them(as statistics to show)? Which i guess leads me to my 3 querry, would their opinions/tone/perspectives change if this occurred to them?

    October 24, 2012 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  22. Linda


    October 24, 2012 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  23. Jazzsinger55

    What bothers me most about Republican candidates is not just that they don't show any concern about the life of the mother, but they also show no concern about the life of the baby once it is born. They don't support funding for day care, health care, good schools, school lunches, or after-school programs. Their views are heartless and selfish.

    October 24, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  24. guygardner

    Even if you are a fundamentalist, how could the actions of a rapist and the subsequent pregnancy ever be confused for your god's will? I don't understand. If I were to stick you with a dirty hypodermic needle and you contracted HIV, is that god's will, or mine? He not only insults a victim in this situation, but whether he knows it or not, he is making excuses for the actual rapists.

    October 24, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  25. Notsurpised

    Not surprised that another Republican has a one-way point of view: Women are beneath his station in life; he has no feelings at all for women being assaulted. He was found in the empty end of the gene pool!!

    October 24, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
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