(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
Obviously dumb statement. Im sure the liberal media will be on this quick. Im surprised they put out the Benghazi e-mail story.
There must be something in the water at the Republican gatherings as we have yet another Republican who seems to view rape as something that should not be a concern. Rather the comments of Akin and Mourdock show a fundamental disconnect from basic human empathy and as a former prosecutor and someone who has dealt with rape survivors first hand, I cannot see how any thinking human can support either of these men for public office.
You never hear female candidates making these remarks. I wonder if Richard Mourdock would still feel this way if his wife was raped and impregnated by her rapist. Aren't there more important issues facing the people of Indiana? Jobs? Taxes? Schools?
Recent statements by Republicans clearly indicate a lack of respect for science and a real love of myth. Unfortunately their statements also demonstrate a lack of respect for women.
This is a classic confusion of God's sovereign will (everything that actually happens good or bad) and his moral will (what he wants to happen). Obviously God never wants a woman to be raped, confusing that is not a smart idea, even if unintentional. The real question is, what is God's will for a human life after it has been conceived for any reason. Eeven a woman in the horrifying situation of being pregnant by Rape is still accountable for the life that is now a part of her, that baby is not responsible for the sin of his or her disgusting father. This is my view as a Christian Pastor.
"I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen," Mourdock said, "
And people wonder why I'm an atheist.
What more needs to be said about republicans who make these kind of statements? The fact that so many so-called "do-gooders" have these over-the-top thoughts about women and things that can only happen to the female body is scary. Voters need to shut them down forever. They seem to attach the same value to women that the taliban do.
lol so god is a rapist now.
Well I guess the Democrats may retake the house with that guy saying not to allow abortion when a woman's life is in danger.
"God does not want rape". – Richard Mourdock, running for U.S. Senate in Indiana.
Obviously, this man believes in an omnipotent god, who with the snap of godly fingers, can instantly create a Universe with trillions of stars. Now he claims that something that his all powerful god doesn't want to happen, happens anyway. How can this be? Please don't start with the "free will" nonsense. IF your all powerful god doesn't want something, as terrible as rape, to happen, it CAN'T happen. Free Will be damned. The only thing dumber than his ridiculous ideas, are people that would actually vote for him. He sounds like the second coming of George W..
What kind of God would will a pregnancy from rape. How do people like this ever get elected to public office. Just unbelievable comment.
This gentleman can not be sane
God intended life but he didn't intend the rape? Wait, is God omnipotent, or not?
OMG.. he should go throw himself off a cliff and do the world a favor. WOW i've made my decision from being an independent to a democrat. Republicans need to rethink who they vote for. wow just wow.
"I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen," Mourdock said,
And people wonder why I'm an atheist.
(Modified for the moderators)
"God does not want ra-pe". – Richard Mourdock, running for U.S. Senate in Indiana.
Obviously, this man believes in an omnipotent god, who with the snap of godly fingers, can instantly create a Universe with trillions of stars. Now he claims that something that his all powerful god doesn't want to happen, happens anyway. How can this be? Please don't start with the "free will" nonsense. IF your all powerful god doesn't want something, as terrible as ra-pe, to happen, it CAN'T happen. Free Will be damned. The only thing dumber than his ridiculous ideas, are people that would actually vote for him. He sounds like the second coming of George W..
Another political moron alert.
The GOP amazes me.
Philosophically and morally I don't see how you can disagree with him.
Please, let's stop focusing on marginal cases to justify large sweeping policies such as abortion.
In this case I would put it this way: What right do we have in terminating a life, regardless of its origin?
I'm not sure I would have made the philosophical statement "it was Gods will". Who am I to state if it was or not. Regardless one mans evil should not end in death for an innocent party.
We need to start understanding that as a society we are ALL affected by the wrongs of each other. We all have the power to hurt each other, and it is the responsibility of all men to protect their women.
Perhaps much more serious punishments are in order for a person that does this.
One thing that is never talked about in the news is the effects an abortion has on a Mother. It's not as if after an abortion, everything is fine. The knowledge that a life was ended still remains in the woman's mind. You might say: "but she did nothing wrong, why should she pay for his wrong"? As I said before, we all effect each other in a society, whether for good or bad.
This will always be a horrible situation, and we need to do everything in our power to prevent it.
To summarize, I don't see a logical and moral justification for ending a life due to the wrong actions of another.
.... I hate Christianity.
Great, another lunatic.
wouldn't pregnancy from rape be an act of the devil since the person who committed the rape was not following Gods will but the will of the Devil? Just a thought
Give him to me! I am going to do, you know what, and he'll be singing, praise be to god!
How can he even possibly believe that God would want a woman who has been raped to get pregnant just so there is another baby brought onto the place he "created?" People who think like this have no business making decisions for the rest of us. Anybody in his state who votes for him has issues.
A woman voting for a republican is like a Jew voting for a Nazi!