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. Neil Grossman

    That's right. Rapists are just doing God's work. They should be praised, not imprisoned.

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

    Not only are these people horrible human beings, but they are stupid enough to say it when they know that it will clearly work against them. And yet, they are getting votes. Wake up, America!

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

    I really can't wait for these ignorant and downright hateful ideas to die out.

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

    If the pregnancy is 'gods' will', then the rape must have been gods' will, as well. I wonder if the good senatorial candidate needs a bit more up close and personal experience with rape before he decrees that god ok's it. We're supposed to be fighting the taliban, mr. candidate. Not emulating them.

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

    A nother Republican Taliban. Go live in Iran if u think like that.

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

    Life is a gift from God. Cannot something beautiful come from something ugly? Even an unwanted life is a beautiful creation from God. Is the child that is born from a rape somehow less of a person? Of course not! Why would that child seconds before birth anything less than a beautiful human? Minutes? hours? days? weeks? When does that child in the womb become something ugly? Never. By all means, imprison the rapist, castrate them, lock them away forever, even consider the death penalty for the rapist. But for the innocent child? That is something to love. A gift from God, perhaps an unwanted and unexpected gift, but from God all life originates.

    October 24, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  7. Joe from Arizona

    God's will is free will, and the choices that come with that gift, God will, will be done by one measure or the other, not by forcing some traumatized woman to be re victimized by being forced into a decision that would leave a constant reminder of an evil act, that likely will cause further mental issues and resentment towards a child. God's will is his own and it is unlikely a Republican would know God's will if he was hit in the face with it.

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

    Any woman voting for the GOP is voting against her own interests (like blue collar workers, 99%ers, 47%ers, etc), America is a mystery to me, how this race is even a race, maybe we are a nation of masochists.....

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

    These are the people who make laws
    That affect women???!!!! Indiana please throw this zealot out!

    October 24, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  10. jacquelynfgerlach

    Remember, just because ONE Republican happens to feel this way doesn't mean that the entire Republican party feels this way. Every political party has individuals with extreme views – this does not mean the political party shares these extreme views. Not all (or even most) Republicans feel this way, the vast majority of Republicans would not agree with his statements.

    October 24, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  11. Mary

    I believe in God's will.
    I do NOT believe that a candidate should discuss what he believes is God's will, particularly during a debate. That is not a valid argument in a political debate.

    October 24, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  12. D.I.

    I think he confused his self. If you get pregnant, it may not be God's will, but God doesn't want you to take an innocent life.

    October 24, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  13. Ron in SC

    Wow, these guys just can't keep the shoe out of their mouths. In this case he eat his entire leg. Are you kidding me??? The GOP is really so out of touch with reality it is beginning to be an epidemic.

    October 24, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  14. shy guy

    Why is it that this country is such a breeding ground for these totally dysfuntional people whom we let get into a position to be making our laws.
    I don't think he would be pontificating this philosophy if his wife or other female loved ones were hummered by a rapist and conceived.

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

    God "intended" it to happen??? What is up with all these Republican men lately? How in the world did they ever get elected for anything? If their God is all powerful he is also apparently pretty perverted. God has nothing to do with it. The only person who should have a say about continuing a pregnancy – of whatever origin – is the pregnant person, period. The only "rules" around it should be recommendations by medical professionals based on each individual's condition and no, repeat NO, government role at all.

    October 24, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. wow

    hope that never happens to his daughter. or else he can preach to her about '"god's" will."

    October 24, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. leo

    You are not hearing what he said, but twisting his words. God is the giver of life and this upsets some people.
    He is not the creator of evil and rape is evil (sin).

    October 24, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  18. jacquelynfgerlach

    Remember, just because ONE Republican feels this way does not mean the entire Republican party feels this way. All political parties have members with extreme views. It does not mean that all (or even most) Republicans share this views. I am sure the vast majority of the GOP does not share this view, so please do not try to paint this extreme position as the official GOP platform.

    October 24, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  19. Snake

    Eh, move on, nothing new here.

    Everyone justifies, well, just about anything in the name of their "god". Religion has become, once again and in the methods of centuries ago, the way to subjugate individual thoughts in the name of "civilization".

    Also note how many men follow these beliefs and believe everyone *else* should too, because *they* must be 'right' in their beliefs. How can I be wrong if I believe it is from "the will of god"?

    Rape? Hey, in one form or another, it is 'god's will'. Because...isn't everything?

    October 24, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  20. Greenpa

    It would seem Mourdock has missed at least half of what the religion he pretends to believe teaches. Evil is real- and yes, is the enemy of good. A more sane interpretation would be that rape happens because of The Devil- and the pregnancy also. In which case- it would be the duty of any good Christian to stop it.

    October 24, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. Chris

    Murdoch i know what you meant. Rape is evil tho its not the unborn childs fault a evil act happen. Every child is a gift even tho it happens in a terrible situation

    October 24, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. GOP = Greed Over People!

    So, if conception from rape is "God's will" are all rapists God's "chri$tian soldiers"?

    This moron just proves the GOP echo chamber is a sewer and that $h!t floats!

    October 24, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  23. Bemused

    I believe Dennis Miller said it best about abortion (back it the '80s, before he went nuts): "One d**k, no vote."

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

    Another radical Republican Politician with radical ideas!!! Mourdock needs to keep his personal views out of the bedroom and out of other people's lives as he is not the one who has to carry a rape baby to term!!! He needs to keep out of a decision between a woman and her doctor!!! To spew his personal religious beliefs on others who have been a victim of rape victimizes them again and is no place for politics!!! Mourdock is a Moron who has no place in politics and is a danger to women everywhere!!!

    October 24, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  25. OA

    at least i know when i legitimately rape someone, I'll be doing god's will...these Republicans are a JOKE.
    How can you Americans not see that...Please prove to the world , you're all not as dumb as we think y'all are..

    October 24, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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