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. K

    Ah, the good ol' GOP. It seems the party as a whole is becoming more retarded day after day.

    October 24, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  2. lindaluttrell

    What is WRONG with you??? Too bad you don't have to experience an unwanted pragnancy, carry that baby for nine months, go through the pain of labor and then have it a a daily remindrer of what happened to you!

    October 24, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  3. S. Lutz

    "The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' message to politicians is unequivocal: get out of our exam rooms." Beautifully said! Womens' health issues should not be part of the political agenda. How dare ANY male politician put his stamp of approval or disapproval on medical procedures concerning the most intimate details of womens' lives.

    October 24, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  4. justsayin

    the GOP seems to be digging this particular hole deeper and deeper. do you think we should ask them to bring back some chinese food for us?

    October 24, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  5. really?

    and it's god's will that some men are impotent–but i don't see you railing against viagra.

    October 24, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. Jonny Cleareyes

    Well ... in a world where an all-knowing all-powerful God decrees everything, and "not a sparrow falls" but at his command, it seems the rape too must be part of His magnum mysterium, and as the Pope (poet Alexander) declared, "Whatever is, is right." That is why so few Americans are Real Christians, and why I would never one for one who was.

    October 24, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  7. David

    So your telling people that " God intended to happen" then I ask you, how is God against rape? He then stated "God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does" He contradicts himself time and time again. You can't have it both ways.

    October 24, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  8. lindaluttrell

    Too bad you can't get pregnant!!!

    October 24, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  9. philojazz

    To quote Mr Mourdock from the article: "God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick," he continued.

    Let me see if I've got this straight, Mr Mourdock.. those who "twist your words" are "absurd and sick", while you, on the other hand, are just a misogynistic, religious fundamentalistic wacko, with no medical knowledge. is that about right?

    October 24, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  10. Ken

    this is why i don t vote republican anymore

    October 24, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  11. Fernando

    Maybe God wants to be good but sometimes He just can't help but intend that bad things must happen to some women. It's complicated and not for us to judge His mysterious ways.

    October 24, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. Tan

    Then we should take GOD to jail since he/she is part of the crime.

    October 24, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. cyclonewarningcenter

    CNN THEIR ARE MORE NEWS THEN THE Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock STORY.... What and the HELL are you guys doing... I'm sick and tired hearing this same story all morning... Report the Real News NOW !!!!! People try Fox News they are Fair and tell all of the news....

    October 24, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  14. Tabeth

    Let the raper then go free!!! That is God,s intention too

    October 24, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  15. christina knight

    Are there only stupid people in the Republican party? Just asking,

    October 24, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  16. Argyle

    He would fit right in with a radical Taliban in Afghanistan.

    October 24, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. Citizen

    OMG! What year is this? Coming from a man too, naturally. Who are you to make decisions about women's bodies? I do not care about your religious beliefs or what you think God has to say about rape. All of you out there, quoting the bible, STOP IT! Religion has no business in this discussion. As a matter of fact, religion has no business in any discussion except for theology.

    October 24, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  18. tet1953

    While I could not disagree more with Mourdock, he has a right to his opinion. Hopefully it will ensure his defeat. I have a question for Mourdock however: why the exception for life of the mother? Who's to say God hasn't made that choice also?

    October 24, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  19. Carson

    Wow. really.

    October 24, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  20. sortakinda

    It is not God's will that a woman is raped or subjected to incest. Those are manifestations of evil in the world. Anyone who doesn't believe that evil exists apparently doesn't think rape or incest is evil. But to kill an unborn child because of an evil done by someone else compounds the evil, it doesn't solve it.

    October 24, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  21. pprty

    (No Responses)

    October 24, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  22. Charlie

    The GOP have this obsession with rape, and the benefits of it.

    October 24, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  23. CarolinaGirl

    I do not believe abortion in any way should be a means of birth control. However, in a case of rape, incest and the health of the mother it should always be the woman's choice. Seems to me we have much more serious issues at hand than this.

    October 24, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  24. DoubleEM

    This man has no brain.
    And I am conservative.

    October 24, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  25. pprty


    October 24, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
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