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. Sue

    Would you feel the same way if it were your wife, daughter, sister?

    October 24, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  2. Sabrit Hadid

    So then, Rape is a gift from G-d? I'm glad G-d has so many "Prophets" that speak His mind for him. Just can't imagine Jesus saying such a thing. Arrogance to the MAX!

    October 24, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  3. Anonymous

    well if you believe that God created everything then isn't his statement correct? is this another attack on Christianity by the main stream?

    October 24, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  4. Dan

    That doesn't sound like a very nice "god" that you have there. Can we please stop this absurd religious nonsense? It's 2012. Get rid of your invisible friends and start to use your brain.

    October 24, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  5. Dynamic

    "Intended" like 9/11 was God's "intention" or like "anything that happens" is God's "intention" ... what's the point of "God" if anything that happens is just the way "God" wants it? Does she realize she's giving God's approval of all the bad things too? These are "Christian" believers? Not much of a religion.

    October 24, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  6. Human Being

    WOW GOP !! just WOW!!!

    October 24, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  7. aebe

    Rape is an act of a perverted free will.If a pregnancy results,it is a natural response,I doubt if God wills it.
    Dough-head politicians should not be speaking for the Creator.This,along with Harry Reid's lies,are good examples of why.

    Validate your 2nd Amendment Rights.Carry.

    October 24, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  8. lunchbreaker

    Wouldn't that be a violation of the attacker's "free will"? Or did God just physically manipulate individual sperm?

    October 24, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  9. Robert

    Only a man could say this! I do hope he is NOT elected.

    October 24, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  10. Wake up People!

    Anyone that doesn't realize these are not isolated people, this is how the GOP really feels is fooling themselves. That's right ladies, you have no rights. Accept your rapists spawn as the gift it is. What next a return to slavery??

    October 24, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  11. ib1sage

    And people vote for idiots like this. It says a lot about the dumbing down of America. Perhaps we should take a look at a growing Religious Taliban in America! Outrageous!!!

    October 24, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  12. Lar 5

    The republican horor show continues.
    What has happened to the the real GOP? Akin and now Mourdock. This is horrendous. Romney must disavow any connection with this man's campaign. Any woman who votes for either of them has lost her mind. Yes Gov, the GOP war on women continues. It"s about time you clamped down on these mysogonists. You tried to come across as a moderate in the debate. Now's the time to prove it!!!!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  13. Clarence Davidson

    This should be an eye opener to those who are thinking of voting Republican

    October 24, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. Zoey

    How the heck did these fanatics get into the White House. Republicans are sooooo stupid.

    October 24, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  15. rich

    Is this really what we want? Come on GOP let's get out of the 1600's. This is policy that is more fitted to the middle east; hey Richard Mourdock maybe we can also stone the women that get raped.

    October 24, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  16. Ray

    I sure hope it's God's will that this idiot loses in November.

    October 24, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  17. Anonymous

    All make Republican politicians should be forcibly and legitimately raped.

    October 24, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  18. Mike

    Morons. They are all morons . . .

    October 24, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  19. Sam Crow

    this guy sounds like he is from Iran, send him there PLEASE. This guy is one of our lawmakers.....i feel sick

    October 24, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  20. ForGoodOfAll

    Wow, I wonder if he would feel the same way if he was a female who was violently attacked and impregnated by a rapist? Of course, people like Mourdock (a man who could never experience such an ordeal ) disregard the whole picture: how much money, care, time and personal sacrifice it requires to raise a child, much less an unwanted & unplanned child resulting from a violent rape.

    October 24, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  21. Tatiana

    The comment this person made was a slap in the face to every rape victim. Yes every baby is a gift from GOD, but its my choice to have the baby or not. This is what scares me about the politicians in this country. I hope the people in his state and around the country crush his dreams, and I pray that God forgives him.

    October 24, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  22. Laroy Haddock

    When God created man he gave us a free will. Some people use their free will to hurt others. Dose God creat this situatin on purpose? No! If we were robots we woudn't have a free will. God did put human government over us to help protect us but sometime that help may be lacking. If a baby is created from this situation, it is still a human life and I believe God intends for us to protect another life just the same as we expect someone to help us protect our life. LAROY

    October 24, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  23. Dan C.

    Life is not a "gift from God", especially since there is absolutely no proof that God exists. Human life is the result of millions and millions of years of Evolution. The simple fact that humans can actually plan when to bring a new life into the world, distinguishes us from animals. Mourdock wants to take us back to past with its obsolete policies. Still don't understand how a woman can accept a group of men to dictate what is good for her?

    October 24, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  24. roisin

    All Republican politicians should be forcibly and legitimately raped. Then their daughters should get pregnant from a rape. We will then say it is all God's will. See how they like it when it hits home.(hate to wish this on women but these guys are so frightening.) Ever hear about separation of church and state. Guess not.

    October 24, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  25. mikithinks

    Now what God in what religion is supervising the conduct of RAPE? That religion should certainly have no right to tell any less fanatical citizen how to conduct their life. Where are these people getting this obsolete crap from?

    October 24, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
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