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. cigarman

    This guy is a fool. God intended for that Rape to happen. Mourdock is obviously a member of the Republican Taliban, AKA as the Tea Party. These people are a bunch of Religious Nuts, and should not be allowed anywhere near politics. Any person who can vote for any Republican in this voting period is a very sick-minded person. I am a Registered Republican, but my Party is falling apart because of Religion,Planet Kolub and Magic underwear. How could anyone vote for these fools.

    October 24, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  2. Lar5

    The GOP has gone insane:
    and now this:
    In fact, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, released a statement Wednesday morning supporting Mourdock.
    "Richard and I, along with millions of Americans – including even Joe Donnelly – believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous," Cornyn said in the statement.

    October 24, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  3. ...

    Funny, they say this stuff and mean it in a debate, etc., but when they get called on it and they think it can hurt their chances at relecttion, they back pedal. Unbelievable...and let women make up their minds what is best for them...it is their body!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    Pregnancies from rape are not the will of God. It's an unintended result of a sick and twisted man that wants to control women for whatever reason. I am insulted by this and sick of political professionals thinking that they need to bend people to their wills and religions. People like him need to be banned from running for any type of office. Again, let me point something out- NOT EVERYONE BELIEVES IN YOUR GOD/WAY OF WORSHIP. This country is supposed to separate this man's way of thinking from it's governemnt, not the other way around.

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

    Boy, the rethug right can't begin to shove their foot down their throat enough. Sadly, there are people that buy this BS! I know, let's legislate and regulate their penis. Then maybe, they' will climb down of the pedestal they have installed themselves on and get real!

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

    "The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (The College) message to politicians is unequivocal: Get out of our exam rooms.”
    The message to all right wingers: Get out of our bedrooms and private lives. Be the little dictatorial policeman in your own house, if you like, but stay the hell away from other people and quit trampling on their rights to live free in America. Quit trying to impose your hypocritical religious beliefs on other people. If you hear God speaking to you, get mental help, because that doesn't happen in the real world. You are not God's surrogate, and the rest of us are not subject to your narrow-minded views and control. Back off. Leave us alone. Get the picture? You're not welcome to impose your views. Can I say it more clearly? STFU and go away.

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

    What a horses butt this guy is. I have to live in the same state as he. Mourdock, as I stated in one of the local papers online comment section, until you gorw a uterus, are raped and end up preganant as a result of a vicious, life altering attack, I wouldn't even go there.

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

    Honestly, none of this even shocks me anymore.

    October 24, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  9. peridot2

    When I was raped, had I fallen pregnant and been FORCED to bear a child I WOULD HAVE KILLED MYSELF. No, I did not report my rape. My friend's husband raped me. I told no one and I kept that secret for 15 years.

    No. Just no. These men must NEVER have a say in this arena. MY body MY choice.

    October 24, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  10. Thinker

    The republican party seems to have brought out all the stupid candidates this election. From Romney on down, this is the stupidest bunch to run in my lifetime.

    October 24, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. marti vadeboncoeur

    If pregnancy resulting from a rape is God's plan, then wouldn't death by childbirth also be the plan???
    Give me a break!!

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

    How do such fools make it even this far in the political process?

    October 24, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  13. Missouri Man

    You moron. You think you would learn from Akin. We need the senate seats and I am amazed how much of a twit you are. How about having a damn brain and thinking before you speak. You are the kind of candidate that makes a bad name for conservatives.

    October 24, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  14. David in Texas

    It is Gods will for abortion and murder and all the lunatics which surround me in Texas. It is Gods will we have "Perry the fruit cake", and those innocent men who were put to death without sound evidence, a judiciary so corrupt an brainless it is a disgrace to mankind.
    God needs to remain in our churches, in our hearts, and his light upon our walk. We cannot use him to get elected or steer mankind. We are loosing our freedom to choose due to "control freaks" who are not men of God. "standing on the street corner"

    October 24, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  15. smokepoint

    What corner of this great nation allows such extrememists to develop? Richard Mourdock belongs in the 14th century. Enlightenment Fail.

    October 24, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  16. April Moreno

    Are all republican against women, science, evolution, and basic human rights? Since when does Richard Mourdock speak to God!! Being an atheist, I do not care!!! Why doesn't CNN focus on the words that are coming out of the bigot's mouth?? Rape is never an option!! Brought to you by Rebulicans who live in a bubble and wish to return to medieval times!!!

    October 24, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  17. John

    Having searched the Bible, there no evidence for this erroneous statement. Mourdock's god must be different from our
    Christian God.

    October 24, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  18. Anonymous

    The dumbest man alive.

    October 24, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  19. Reality Man

    Well then I guess He'll have to ask himself the next question. Where did "GOD" come from?

    October 24, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  20. Ted Haigh

    Republicans like this one are the biggest gift Democrats could ever hope for. They're entertaining as well!

    October 24, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  21. sam stone

    what a maroon

    October 24, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  22. bill

    Sounds like the usual Republican Fussy Logic. our infalliable God intends an outcome, implictly, but takes no responsibility or has control for the process of getting to the outcome.

    October 24, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  23. TheSchmaltz

    So God doesn't condone rape, but he condones sticking the victim with a child she may not want or be able to care for, that may look exactly like her attacker, and that her attacker might claim paternity rights for. He wags his finger at the initial attack, but then sometimes makes sure that the effects last as long as possible. Also rapists don't suffer or drop dead at a higher rate than the rest of us.

    October 24, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  24. Chaddles

    It is clear Richard Mourdock is completely out of touch with reality. What moron thinks this? If that happened to his daughter, I guarantee he would change his mind .... republicans are ruining the country. What a disgrace of a man!!!

    October 24, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  25. Bob R., Maryland

    Thus Mourdock suggests it would be God's will for anybody to rape his wife, his mother, any female, or even his grandmother.

    October 24, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
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