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. Ticktick

    Unbelievable in the country of Moon landing, Mars rover, Ipads and Gates;if you get robbed,a attacked ,it is god's will;so we do not need to convict criminals. if unemployed, homeless, divorced, gay , it is god's will;when he gets sick, he will not go to doctor but to god. So he will not blame them on Obama or democrats and so he plans to vote for "Obama" in the election. It only shows the innocence or ignorance of people who are constantly being programmed like machines by talk show hosts, irrational politicians and religious fanatics .Voters: Change the congress to move forward.

    October 24, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. Realist

    This is what happens when people vote Republican.

    October 24, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Dee45

    By uttering that statement not only has he shown all, how utterly and completely brainwashed he is, but is also a testament to what happens when ones religious beliefs are allowed to infuse political agendas. Idiots like this are no better than fanatical, hard-line Islamists. Just the flip side of the same hypocritical coin.

    October 24, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. CeeGee

    If there really is a god, he will not allow that to happen. I'm sure he will not even allow that rape to happen. I think if there really is a god he is more like a "love thy neighbor and do not do unto others" kind of deity. I don't know about their god.

    October 24, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. Stevo

    Another member of the American Taliban.

    October 24, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. Jack

    Why not even oppose abortion when the mothers life is in danger? That's how god wants it! In fact, why not ban all medicine, if someone lives or dies that's how god wants it.

    Anyone else see why it is dangerous to elect these cultists into office? Do you really want their imaginary friend dictating public policy that you have to follow?

    October 24, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  7. TheMagusNYC

    These absurd rationalizations for opposing the basic human rights of women and men need to contested by the GOP leadership, although they reflect the language of the platform. Moving from "gift of God" to "God intends" is fallacious reasoning, an insult to rational minds.

    October 24, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  8. ray

    he needs to be reminded that his opinions stop at the end of his nose

    October 24, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  9. Woody

    (Modified for the moderators)
    "God does not want ra-pe". – Richard Mourdock, running for U.S. Senate in Indiana.

    Obviously, this man believes in an omnipotent god who, with the snap of godly fingers, can instantly create a Universe with trillions of stars. Now he claims that something that his all powerful god doesn't want to happen, happens anyway. How can this be? Please don't start with the "free will" nonsense. How can free will of a lowly human, override the will of your imaginary mighty god? IF your all powerful god doesn't want something to happen, it CAN'T happen. The only thing dumber than his ridiculous ideas, are people that would actually vote for him. He sounds like the second co-ming of George W..

    October 24, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  10. Mike

    I sure don't want to hear his take on the virgin Mary!

    October 24, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  11. Tom DuBose

    Only an Idiot would say something like that. There is no place in our society for people who think or say such lunacy!

    October 24, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  12. glades2

    God gives Man free will and if sinful Man uses it to rape, then the burden of sin is on Man's shoulders, but when it comes to life – even life through rape – then that is God's Will and should not be denied.

    Today, I'm attending a Mass and funeral for an newborn infant who was thrown into a dumpster behind a motel – but the community came together and we are giving God's little one a Christian burial – respect for life, even though it was brought into the world by sinful means, is still life, and must be respected...

    October 24, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  13. John Sharp

    This individual is one vile piece of garbage. I am so fed up with Religious people and their child like beliefs.
    If that was an act of God, then your God Sucks!
    What kind of God would subject a woman to that psychological torture. Only a crap God.

    October 24, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  14. RubyJeanne

    I wish I was a registered voter in Indiana so I could vote against him. I find it so hypocritical of those Republicans who cry like babies about government interference in our healthcare decisions, but think nothing of trying to legislate women's choices on what to do with their own bodies. You can believe whatever you want to believe but you shouldn't force those beliefs onto others.

    October 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. Steve

    So it was "God's will" for the woman to get pregnant. If I follow this line of thinking, it was also God's will for her to get raped. Also it must be "His" will that children are neglected and abuse, right? And what about people who throw their lives away with meth or drugs? What about those people who were murdered at that spa? God's will?? Or can you just pick and choose to suit your needs?

    October 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  16. jim

    There are extremes on both sides of this issue from the defense of partial birth abortion on the extreme left to the position that Mr. Mourdock is taking here which is far from the main stream thinking of most Republicans which just rejected the candidacies of Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Sara Palin just to name a few. Featuring so prominently on their website a story like this is typical of the liberal bias of an organization like CNN. In that regard they are really just a mirror of the Fox news organization.

    October 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. John Sharp

    If that was an act of your God, then your God Sucks!!

    October 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. robertholt

    If he’s right – he’s right. If he’s wrong – he’s wrong. Either way, I say don’t let it bother you. He was expressing his personal views. If you don’t agree with him, if you don’t like what he said, I don’t see any reason to have a hissy fit over it. If he’s right – that settles it. If he’s wrong, that’s his problem – don’t make it yours.

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

    ""I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I realized that life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen," Mourdock said, explaining that he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger."

    Isn't he contradicting himself? If a mother's life is in danger, wouldn't that also be God's will?

    October 24, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. Ken in MO

    This guy and that party is so sick it scares me. I have a lot of Republican friends and for the life of me I cannot figure out why they would support screwballs like this. This guy is barely human..so sick in the head...him and Aikin. They cant support Mitt because of his policies...he is MUCH more liberal than Obama...he just changed his views for the general campaign...everyone knows that. The party has lied to the people for so long...and so has Fox News, that they now believe the insanity they spout are facts. I have not checked Fox News yet but I bet they spin it to where it is Obama's fault that the man said it. But of course they will also say it was taken out of context. Sick! Just Sick!!

    October 24, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. ChristopherM

    Where does the GOP find these yahoos? If men could get pregnant, not only would there be an exception for rape, but Planned Parenthood would be more common than Starbucks.

    October 24, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. G

    Hey if he is explaining his viewpoint which is based off of his religous convictions, that is his right! Liberals need to come off of the religous rant. Everyone has a right to their religon and that religon being a part of their professional and personal life. You wouldn't be considered any kind of religous if it didn't influence everything.

    October 24, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  23. Sanity

    1) Despite the media parade of these idiots, the GOP is not defined by crazy outlier candidates like Mourdock and Akin. 2) Luckily, most people recognize the Economy still trumps these social issues; the GOP isn't going to undo Roe v. Wade, end of story.

    October 24, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  24. Jean in Houston

    Whoopi Goldberg once said that any man who truly opposes safe, legal abortion ought to "take a gun and shoot his [genitalia] off." These candidates ought to soberly consider her words before shooting off their mouths.

    October 24, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. highly insulted

    What a moron!!! He's just given every rapist an excuse to brutalize and violate women! Rape victims surely don't feel that way. And there is NOTHING in the Bible that would back up his moronic view. If the Republicans hadn't insulted enough women at this point, they have now. If he was held down and raped he would be calling it a brutal crime, not God's will. I would be embarrassed to call myself a Republican at this point.

    October 24, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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