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. chuck

    This man needs SERIOUS psychiatric help.

    October 24, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  2. JJ

    I do not believe rape is God's will....Rape happens because the world is full of sin. God will help you through it but HIS will?? Seriously???

    October 24, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. Party Lost

    As a fiscal conservative I used to have a party that somewhat aligned to many of my beliefs. As a social moderate I had a fall back position when the GOP failed to deliver quality. With both parties pandering the the exremes, I'm considering Canada....

    October 24, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  4. mccgeno

    These people are insane!

    October 24, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  5. Oldeye

    Boy, did he open up a can of worms!
    Religion and politics is really not compatible for most of us.
    Mourdock needs to keep is beliefs to himself. I hope he is not
    going to be disappointed with himself on this one.

    October 24, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  6. A Godbodian

    I mean really?
    Republicans, why do you support such damaging and disparaging idiots?

    October 24, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  7. DL

    Stupid people elect stupid politicians

    October 24, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  8. JJ

    God will help you through anything...but HIS will, I think NOT. These guys that keep saying this stuff are just nuts, and really....will it be a gift when it happens to their family?

    October 24, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  9. Paul

    As a Democrat, I just love it when Tea Party Republicans talk about women's issues – makes my day!

    October 24, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  10. Lar5

    The republican horror show continues. Now Cornyn is backing Mourdock.
    What has happened to the the real GOP? Akin and now Mourdock. This is horrendous. Romney must disavow any connection with this man's campaign. Any woman who votes for either of them or the GOP has lost her mind. Yes Gov, the GOP war on women continues. It"s about time you clamped down on these misogynists. You tried to come across as a moderate in the debate. Now's the time to prove it. Tell him to resign from the race.

    October 24, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. Jeanneboo

    Then you carry it you santimonious twit.

    October 24, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Is this guy for real????

    October 24, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. Slappy_McGiggles

    What's wrong with America that a guy this twisted can run for office?

    October 24, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. T R

    Thus we clarify what is the real problem in the world. Men seek to be speakers for God when really they are just self made little gods attempting to formulate the real God into the imaginary person that meets their needs at the time. In this case their god gets them a vote. How insulting to God that someone would use his name to worm out a few more votes.

    October 24, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  15. Dan

    I can't believe people vote for these weirdos.

    October 24, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. TomCom

    That's the problem with religion. You get knuckle heads that really believe this.

    October 24, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. steve

    If a mother must carry and deliver a baby conceived from rape, those that believe in this should take responsibility in bringind up the baby. Why would you ever want the mother of this child to be reminded every day she looks at her child (born out of rape), that she was once raped and this child is the product of that rape. That is insane.

    October 24, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  18. Robert Lauterbach

    go an hero yourself please senator.

    October 24, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  19. Wow

    So why have the death penalty and jails, if murders, robberies, muggings, carjackings, etc were all intended by God? When you elect radical twisted people like this guy, why do you expect great things from government? When did the Christian church give up on the Devil and now everything's Gods will?

    October 24, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. PL

    Only the mother should decide. She has been raped once, don't rape her rights as a human being as well!

    October 24, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  21. Chris33

    1. Ryan voted to end funding for Planned Parenthood, which could jeopardize access to cancer screenings, birth control, and other preventive care that nearly three million Americans rely on each year.
    2. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending safe and legal abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or when a woman’s life is at risk.
    3. He co-sponsored an extreme and dangerous “personhood” bill which could ban some forms of birth control and fertility treatments.
    4. The Ryan budget plan, his signature piece of legislation, would dismantle Medicaid, jeopardizing basic health care for millions of women and families. For many, this could mean the difference between getting cancer screenings and birth control or going without.

    Romney and Ryan would turn back the clock on women’s health and women’s rights.

    October 24, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  22. Yet Again

    While I think his choice of words were bad, I think the Democratic SPIN on this issue is crazier.

    This is sure to get attacks from the intolerant atheists and the Pro-Choice liberals who are quick to jump on any issue involving someone's opinion about abortion.

    Notice how this article tries to tie this man's statements to Romney, as if this Murdock guy is Romney's running mate or something. Did Donna Brasil write this article?

    October 24, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  23. Dan

    The words in our vocabulary and our understanding of them do not always express our thoughts perfectly. They are used to make a point and the listener with a biased mind can say they mean what they want them to mean.
    Mental telepathy IS A FACT especially between animals and man and animals. They don't understand the words but get the point. My experience with mental telepathy leads me to believe it happens when the individuals are thinking about the same subject. If that is so; this misunderstanding is because the misunderstander has something else on his mind.

    October 24, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  24. Timothy

    Oh my God! This is absolutely inconceivable. I cannot believe this. Elvery single Republican should be voted out of office on the 6th. This is a political party which still lives in the age of dinosaurs, believes the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around it. This is beyond the pale.

    October 24, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  25. Lucifer1

    Yet, Republican women will still vote for these men who will be making health care option decisions for them. It's a bit like punching yourself in the face...

    October 24, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
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