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. ChsnLck

    GOP: Is anyone really shocked?
    Don't worry ladies, pretty soon if the Reps have their way rape will just be "boys will be boys."

    October 24, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. Odo

    GOOD GOD get these religious nuts OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  3. Robert


    October 24, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  4. slk

    First.......the gop can NOT even get medical facts straight. WOMEN DIE EVER YEAR DUE TO COMPLICATIONS !!!!!!FACT.
    Second.........why are the gop soooooooooooooooo concerned with women?
    I know from what I've read they still believe the little woman should be home, barefoot and pregnant and have that dinner
    ready when the MAN of the house walks in the door.......................good grief.............what century are these folks found from? Can the gop do no better? This is their canidate pool? No wonder the GOP are stuck and have NOT done any bill passing for over 3 years. No wonder all they can do is say NO. They need to pay back all their salaries to the American people with interest. They need to have all their "special" health insurance pulled. They need to have all deducation for said insurance given back to the American people. They need to be sent out from the House and Senate and sent home, with their bags. TIME TO VOTE..............................ALL NEW MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE NEEDED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Especially those that have brains and compasion. GET RID OF THE BAGGAGE OF THE OLD SAY NO GROUP NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  5. jarodbee

    So mr. Mourdock has fantasized himself a god, who has no power to prevent rape, but once it happened, will direct the sperm to a waiting egg, in order to present the raped woman with 'the gift of life'. Wow. Another mind twisted by religion.
    But it gets stranger. When a mothers life is in danger due to a (normal ?) pregnancy, then mr. Mourdocks is of the opinion that 'gods gift of life' can be aborted. Your god might not like that, mr. Mourdock.
    Fortunately mr. Romney knows better. I wonder, where does he get his knowledge from ? An other 'holy book'?

    October 24, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  6. Tom

    Donnelly has this Republican Hoosier's vote. Richard has already said that he opposes bi-partisan efforts in congress. It's something that he ran on in the primary. Joe is a great moderate Dem, is pro-life, and is great for Indiana and the US.

    October 24, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  7. rmarma

    why isnt the mother dying also gods will

    October 24, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  8. Christie

    The man should be run out of politics. To make such an horrendous statement that," pregnancies resulting from rape are intended by God" show total lack of compassion for the woman and children involved. To even suggest such a thing shows him to be lacking in essential human decency.

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

    While we're at it, why don't we harvest every egg and sperm and create lives, overpopulate the earth and bring on our own demise! I believe life start at something that is living, and a sperm is alive, right?

    So to let the sperm hit the sheets of the bed is a crime. An egg is alive too, and knowing billions get flushed down the toilet every month is just plain murder. We should stop it immediately...wet dreams should be criminalized too.

    Oh, and we should double our military spending. Support our troops! Freedom is not free!

    October 24, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. Bry

    The stupidity of political candidates never ceases to amaze me.

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

    I find it impossible to believe that a woman being raped could imagine she is receiving a gift from God. Republicans are as crazy as the Taliban.

    October 24, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. Greg

    IS there a nut store Republicans go to now to find their candidates? Every year you get more and more freaks on the right running for office. They scary part is people vote for these freaks which makes them freakier. We are watching the downfall of this country brought on by these Neanderthal conservatives. Stock up on the essentials now people and get in your bunker. I predict we will be the new Iran in about 20 years. Scary people them conservatives.

    October 24, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. NameJS

    Another Tea Party fool. He's an ass for saying such a hateful thing and an idiot for not seeing the political downside of doing so.

    October 24, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Mr. Steve

    wow. just wow.

    is it also God's will for him to lean towards windows when the sun is out? or is that actually his need for photosynthesis?

    October 24, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Hoosier God?

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

    "God doesn't want rape." Gee, I thought God was in control of everything so if he didn't want it, he could make it so it doesn't happen. When will we finally see these people who think they speak on behalf of a made-up spirit as lunatics? Victims of witch hunts were burned for saying stuff like this. Why is it any more believable now?

    October 24, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  17. John

    People like this waste good air. These ultra right zealots are just plain ignorant and do NOT represent republican or libertarian views. As a libertarian, this is why we should maintain status quo in the senate with liberals in charge and a house with republican control so we have balance. At the least, the Republican Party leadership should strip him of his 'republican' affiliation. In good consciousness, I cannot even vote the republican ticket with idiots like this spewing these disgusting views.

    October 24, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  18. cmc

    I find it interesting that he supports abortion in the case of the mother's health. If he believes in all of this "God's will" stuff, wouldn't the mother dying be God's will as well? Unbelievable that these people actually get votes.

    October 24, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  19. palintwit

    This clown is the poster child for abortion. Too bad his mother didn't have access to one.

    October 24, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  20. rad666

    ""Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views." -– Not publicly.

    October 24, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  21. Karl

    This guy is saying that twisting his words is sick and absurb, no he is sick and absurd. Christians are so far out of touch with reality and the human condition, it's really quite sad. We need to pray for them.

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

    And here we thought Taliban are the only one have problem with women rights.....

    October 24, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  23. cWhatsNew

    "if they have candidates with this level of stupidity, they might have comparable level of voters?" I'm sure people in other countries would be wondering. Are we watched like zoo animals? Shame! Please just get out of town!!!

    October 24, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  24. J.C.

    Republican idiotic comments are a gift from God to the Democratic Party.

    October 24, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  25. dede

    It is astonishing any candidate, Republican or Democrat would express the opinion Mr. Murdoch has expressed about pregnancies that occur because of a rape. I absolutely, unequivacobly say, as a woman who, if I lived in Indiana would be horrified if I knew people such as Mr. Murdoch could tell me what I should or should not do with my body. He has no right to tell me that if I had been raped and became pregnant as a result of that rape that I should be forced to bear a child I did not want. How dare him say that to any woman!

    October 24, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
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