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. mre2

    Another n u tcase from the extreme right, inspired by his blind faith. Mourdock and Bachmann would make a lovely couple.

    October 24, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. wahlabing

    And folks wonder why I'm an atheist?

    "when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen"

    October 24, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  3. Ferd

    These people are freaking crazy and no one seems to care.

    October 24, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  4. William Harris

    What in the world is wrong with these people,to make someone a victim of a crime not only suffer from the experience but to be forced to have a child of a rapist because some nitwit believes God sent the rapist over to assaualt the women please do you see what you have to vote for here,think about it,your wife,mother or daughter gets violated and they are expected to have the child ? WTH is wrong with them ? !!!

    October 24, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Petra

    I can hardly believe it – there are folks that agree with this man??? Seriously? No wonder this world is such a scary place.

    October 24, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. TomCom

    With his logic the rapist should not be punished if god made him do it.

    October 24, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  7. dana

    The Republican Party is no longer my party of choice due to religious fanatics like this. I changed my party affiliation today to Independent. Republicans have been hijacked.

    October 24, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  8. wahlabing

    @summer are you serious????

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Rude Mike

    The GOP needs to go the way of the Whigs! Libertarian Party Up! GOP Down! Abolish the GOP!

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  10. Jim

    Paleolithic Neanderthal mentality. The human race could make great strides is we could get rid of organized religion and actually think with our "god" given minds.

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  11. Tony

    If people keep on electing religious fundamentalists like Mourdock, the United States will end up like Iran.

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  12. nofluer

    This candidate is an idiot. IF he says that "God intended" for the woman to get pregnant, then He would also have "intended" for the woman to be raped – which means that God encourages or causes rape to happen. That's not God. That's Satan. I believe in free will – which would mean that in such a case, God did not INTEND for the rape to happen, but ALLOWS the exercise of freewill on the part of the rapist. "Allow" is not causative – so you can have a holy God who does not cause rape, but allows it by the exercise of free will on the part of the rapist. Like in the old testament, He allowed the enemies of His chosen people to retain their land for a time so that their inequities may be fulfilled. ie he's giving them a chance to change, and if they don't – too bad dude. "I gave you a chance to straighten out and you just didn't! So you earned your punishment."

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  13. Tacitus Talks

    Saying it is God's will -the pregnancy that is – bad luck, karma, fate – whatever – do you kill an innocent? The Muslims do that , the stone the the victim – and I see very little outrage from the left on that.

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  14. melissa

    I agree that these men need to worry about their own bodies and stop trying to control women. It smacks of religious extremism the likes of the Taliban. If it's gods will for a woman to become pregnant from a rape, then I suppose it's gods will for a man to have erectile dysfunction and we should ban all the little blue pills that help him get an erection. If god wanted him to have an erection he would. You would see men dying to protect their right to pop Viagra and laws would be enacted in record time.

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  15. TomCom

    The devil does bad things and god does good things. There's the proof there is a god.

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  16. Timothy

    Julia Robers was right... Republicans are midway between reprehensible and repugnant. This party is an embarrassment to the West.

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. zen1110

    What are they going to suggest next? I have never been raped, but I can only imagine what a woman goes through after something like that. I'm sure you have enough guilt to deal with thinking 'I shouldn't have been on that street at night' or lots of other things that run through your mind that you should have done differently to avoid what happened to you. Now they get the additional guilt that this violence against them is somehow in 'God's Plan.'

    October 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Ian

    what an idiot – talk about the dark ages – this guy needs to be sent back there

    October 24, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. December

    Regardless of whether or not Mourdock was meaning life or rape, he is still insisting God's intentions are that a woman should have to deal with the pain of rape by raising an unwanted child of her attacker. I say then, using his logic, that every abortion is also God's intention. Or is it that being a rich, white male, he is more in touch with God's will than us more feebler people, and he is simply in touch with his group's historical messianic complex? 

    No sir. Regardless of your God, you follow that all things are God's will, and that you do not get to pander around picking God's intentions to support your illogical religious-fueled political views. Especially when those views can result in laws that oppress people you neither know or in touch with. 

    October 24, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. The stupid hurts

    Can we retroactively abòrt that lòser?

    October 24, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. murpis

    It is not God's intention for rape and pregnancy to happen. Come on! Seriously? It's Evil's intention and science. What an idiot and if anyone votes for him, they are an idiot too. And I'm a conservative christian.

    October 24, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Attis

    God intends every child to be a wanted child. She would never condone rape or a pregnancy resulting from rape.

    October 24, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. John

    Huh...god uses rape to create life...who knew?

    October 24, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  24. Jack Anderson

    The debate should be about the economey and jobs. Everything else in the world can wait!

    October 24, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. Ed

    I am a proud republican but come on....people like this make the GOP look bad.

    October 24, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
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