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. Name

    Another ignorant misogynist

    October 24, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  2. Joe from Arizona

    This stance is not right to oppose your religious beliefs to prevent a woman's right to choose. This sounds like a Mormon speaking as Christian, that they are not. After being victimized a woman should not have to stare at a unwanted child forced on her by a horrific trauma for the rest of her life if she so chooses. Where in the bible was any woman raped and any good came of it? No where I can think of.

    October 24, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  3. chuckA

    What a ridiculous statement by an out of touch politician..

    October 24, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  4. tuckp

    So I gotta ask the question: if pregnancies that result from rape are the will of God, then doesn't that also mean that using the free will, intellect, and ingenuity that God gave us to prevent pregnancies that result from rape from coming to full term *also* God's will?
    Let's face it. All humans are limited, finite, within very specific bounds. God's will is not. God exists outside human boundaries and limitations. Therefore, the ability for any human to know God's will is going to be suspect because we can only perceive the tiniest portion of God's will.

    October 24, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  5. sputnick1

    I think this man needs professional help

    October 24, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  6. Pat in IL

    To say that there is no such issue as the life of the mother is just as stupid as Akin's legitimate rape comment. These men need to be taught genuine Christianity and stop speaking mumbo jumbo about things that they don't know anything about.

    October 24, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  7. sputnick1

    What ever happened to freedom of the press?

    October 24, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Vote this man out of office.

    October 24, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  9. jon

    oh my god. just go away.

    October 24, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  10. whatever

    Nice spin. He said the child is a gift from God, not the rape. What a bunch of liers.

    October 24, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  11. Alex

    This is repulsive.

    October 24, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  12. Mr. Knowitall

    I was thought when a sperm fertilizes an egg was how pregnancy happens, and all this time it was just God.

    October 24, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  13. Doug

    Excuse me while I face palm so hard that Richard can feel it.

    October 24, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  14. michael gilbert

    If thats the case, whould a guy with AIDS rape a rich women so he would get to have a kid who would be well taken care of and go to jail and get free healthcare?

    October 24, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  15. SL

    I know CNN wants Obama and the left to win and you are doing all you can, but I dont think that is going to happen.We can certainly expect more highly charged biased articles in the coming weeks.

    October 24, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  16. snods-are-us

    seems like they are the raper's will, not god.

    October 24, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  17. Sam

    Not sure if the rape happens to his wife or daughter he would think that is "God's will". Crazy nonsense not heard of even from the Taliban.

    October 24, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  18. capnmike

    Idiots like this do NOT belong in any position of public authority.

    October 24, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  19. Zeke2112

    More suffering inflicted upon humanity by the religiously insane. Why stop at pregnancies as a result of r@pe? Why not murder? Surely that's God's way of bringing you to him. Why not beating and maulings? Surely those are God's way of punishing sinful deeds. The lunacy here is astounding.

    "There's no such exception as life of the mother"

    Mr. Walsh needs to research ectopic pregnancy and shut his mouth until he knows what he's talking about.

    October 24, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  20. Joe Mama

    Yes, and all of those incarcerated who are 'play making' babies are Gods will too.

    Its a wonder why our country is the laughing stock of the globe.

    October 24, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  21. Ed217

    Mourdock is a shining example that complete stupidity is still alive and well in government.

    October 24, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. rick

    Sorry, just noticed he's republican. Carry on.

    October 24, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  23. Phil Tuncap

    I've actually always agreed with that. When a person gets pregnant, to me there's a reason, whether as a reward or a consequence of your life path. Similar to how he thinks it's God's will.

    October 24, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  24. SueH

    Unless it was he who was attacked and had to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Then it would be a whole different ball game.

    October 24, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  25. dragonwife

    So what this ignorant fool is saying is that, following the logical progression: 1) A woman is raped and pregnancy (a life) results; 2) God creates life; 3) Therefore, God must have intended this woman to be raped; otherwise, she wouldn't have become pregnant. I really am frightened for the future of women in this country if Romney wins this election. Yes, I understand that Romney has disavowed this man's misguided opinion, but the official Republican party platform on these matters is not far off. I'm no great fan of Obama, either, but heaven help us if we go back to the 1940s in terms of women's "proper place". How about if all the moderates in BOTH parties get out and vote, and keep the far-extreme loonies from taking over?

    October 24, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
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