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. csiko

    If you believe that rape is a gift from God, you might want to seriously reconsider your entire core system of beliefs. As in, every single thing you know is probably wrong.

    October 24, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |

    If you vote for a moron like this, you should be ashamed.

    October 24, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  3. lkjhgfdsa

    Wow, This guy sounds line an Islam extremist. YEAH GOP you go guys!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  4. Charlotte

    All i can on this is WOW. I understand that this....person....has a right to his religious beliefs, however they are not shared by everyone, nor are his views on rape, pregnancy or the right to terminate that pregnancy. My concerns with our government are people just like this man. He inserts his religious beliefs into a business/profession that can't or shouldn't be biased by that belief. Now if he wants to vote down abortion based on scientific information, or just because he does not agree with it fine...but DO NOT use any religious diety as your excuse to do so. That sir is a true cop out, hiding behind your religion instead of just saying I dont' like it, I don't agree with and then having to explain why.

    October 24, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  5. gIFT

    So it's a gift from God because God could have stopped the pregnancy if he wanted.

    Under that line of reasoning, Priests Raping Young Boys is a Gift from God because surely he could have stopped this act.

    9/11? Yep, Forget your conspiracy theories. IT'S A GIFT FROM GOD!

    Aids, War, Cancer, George Bush..... Happy Birthday. Love God.

    The lengths these fools will go to to justify their political party is unbelievable... or maybe it's a gift!

    October 24, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  6. toosmart

    Why save the mother if its dangerous? isnt it gods will to have that mother die? why save anyone with medicine? loonies.

    October 24, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  7. TheWatcher

    Well if pregnancies are a gift from God maybe you should also thank him for an economy in the tank, all your dead soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan, also, how anyone can possibly blame Obama for this economy when CLEARLY it was god. Also make sure you thank him prior to any disasters, I am positive he will consider jumping into action. WOOO VOTE THE CHRIST COALIETION! (sic)

    October 24, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  8. EJ

    Yet another GOP candidate un-intentionally warning voters not to put them into office. Wake-up people, they are slipping up and telling you where they stand and the radical ideaology they want to force on you and when they realize what they have done – they retract it.

    October 24, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  9. John

    These Republican keep showing the American People just how dumb they really are,and they keep putting there foot In there mouths all the Time. This man doesn't deserve to be elected to the Senate, this Is showing the American people how the Republican really think. He all most sound like Todd Akin of Missouri.

    October 24, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  10. Sarah

    I'm going to stick my neck out here, because I know what I say will not be very popular. Man does not have the ability to create life. We have the ability to create flesh, but we do not have the ability to breathe a soul to animate it. This is something only God can do. Yes, rape is a horrible thing....but the life subsequent to the event is not created by the rape. The life is created by God, Himself. Why would He do that? God works in mysterious ways, and Romans 8:28 says that all things work to the good for those who love God, and are called according to His purpose. For the woman who is raped, this can be a traumatic event, but what if there were an opportunity for her to look at this from a different perspective. Sometimes when we step back and let God do His work, we can find how truly wise, how magnificent, and how merciful he really can be. I think we should stop trying to "be" God, and should start trying to "see" God.

    October 24, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  11. max3333444555

    This same god has endorsed rape many times. Taking women as booty in battle is rape. A wife not having the right to refuse a husband is rape.

    in addition, the bible endorses abortion in numbers 5 in the case of adultery

    October 24, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  12. gisthatright

    How ignorant and blind can you get? Its hard to believe this guy is in office.

    October 24, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  13. Robert Buchanan

    The greatest problem with People like Mourdock is they bred.

    October 24, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  14. lefty avenger

    Wacko Christian American Taliban Republicans............

    October 24, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  15. Karen

    This man has to be one of the most dangerous thinking person (refuse to call him human) in the US right now that is running for office. He and Akin from Missouri need to be taken and put on an island together to keep either of them from Washington and their attempt to enact laws that reflect their slewed thinking. They deserve each other.

    October 24, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  16. benedictacc

    As a person who was conceived by rape, I see what he was trying to say, but it did not come out correctly. It is not that God intended the rape, but rather God intended the life.

    I believe that every human life is sacred and special, though I have been told that I am a "mistake" or "I should have been aborted, for my birth mother was forced to give birth to me because abortion was not legal at the time, or the Catholic Church forced the issue, etc." When I look at my life, and the life of my strong, mature, and independent daughters, the love of my wife, and the work I do to make life better for so many – I am glad that my life was intended by God and that the legal option to "get rid of it" was not around. Do not tell me I have no right to life – I am meant to be, as is every human life (or potential human life).

    God bless you, Mr. Mourdock – but please choose your words better next time.

    October 24, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    "God intended for rape to happen" sounds like a deranged rapist telling his victim it's OK.

    October 24, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  18. Richard Veckruise

    In terms of ignorance, insensitivity and Neanderthal thinking Richard Mourdock scores high marks. One could ponder his view if in fact the recipient of "God's Will" were visited upon his wife, daughter, sister or even mother. Easy to make mandates for others when it doesn't effect you directly. God never intended procreation in this manner. A pregnant 13 year old from rape a mother?, God's will? I don't think so!

    October 24, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  19. ally buster

    Throw out ALL the tea partiers!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  20. Scott Abfalter

    That is about the most evil thing I have heard someone say for quite a while.

    October 24, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  21. Amy Smith

    We need to get this religious extremism 100% out of our government. The Christian religion in general does not assign any value to women as human beings and it is terrifying to see this reflected in the beliefs of the lawmakers of this country. This kind of GOP garbage is what moves us closer to the countries that are under the rule of Islamic extremism. If we had a GOP that put the same effort into rebuilding the economy that it is put into denigrating the basic human rights of women, then we might have a GOP worth voting for. As it is, I am left with no choice but a straight Democrat ticket this year. Dems, at least, are not proponents of such invasive government and taking away human rights.

    October 24, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  22. Satch99

    Maybe he would feel different if his wife and daughters were raped and forced to carry the psychological scars of knowing everytime they looked thier baby she had to relive that rape abuse and trauam.

    Your right-wing party makes make me sick. The least compassionate people acting as the most, forcing their iddiotic, fairytale religion on everyone. Since you RightWingers love to force people what to do (while you cry about losing freedom, do you get it!), how about, since "turnabout is fair-play" as the saying goes, we force all of you pro-lifers to sign a list and to be forced to adopt and pay for all those babies you forced people to have because of your religion... Your religion is not MY religion. and BTW: My 1/2 sisters father as born with one arm as his mom tried a back-alley abortion before Roe vs. Wade was passed. This guy was in in and out of jail, pyscgh issues knowing is mother abandoned him, molested his own daughter, my 1/2 sister, and all because of the failed abortion attempt. He had a miserable life. Well he's dead like he always wanted to be from the trauma of having one arm, a mother who aborted him and died from internal bleeding because abortion was illegal.

    Man I am sick of you religious people. You all would be Muslim if you were born in the Mid-East, or Hindu if India, or Budhist if born in East Asia. Your lack of the most basic understanding of even this SIMPLE logic is what is destroying this world.

    Possible News Story if your party wins: Republican/Tea Party starts forced religious schooling, wiping out the 1st Amendment. Taliban impressed with American Conservative party while disagreeing on who the "true "God" is. Regardless, they share weapons and tactics on how to wipe out the rational, intelligent, and logical "non-believers."

    October 24, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  23. cedaly1968

    Hmmm... not sure I would buy into "God's will" here. Republicans seem to be tripping all over the abortion issue and a woman's right to privacy. I cannot say that rape is "God's will" and that the pregnancy from rape is "God's will." Rape is an act of violence and a woman should be allowed to control her body. In some ways though, I believe what the candidate is saying is somewhat true. Rape is an act of violence, a momentary act in the context of a lifetime. I do not believe that a woman should not be allowed to decide how to care for her own body after such an act. But, I do believe that a momentary act of violence can be overcome by a lifetime of love and devotion to a child. Life is a precious thing.

    October 24, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  24. craig

    What a moron!!

    October 24, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  25. Rich In DC

    Yeah....but we dont believe god exists.

    So if my atheist wife is raped she is forced to carry to term because of someone else's religious beliefs?? If we would be forced to have this baby...I want some damn proof that god exists!! Then maybe we can make laws based on "gods will".

    October 24, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
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