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. L4yrsworstPresidentEver

    Anyone who speaks for God, is ignorant. God is amazing and no one knows how mysterious and wonderful He is. Don't bring God in to petty politics

    October 23, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  2. drinker75

    Can we please send these people to an island somewhere?

    October 23, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  3. DRE

    Another one; just what this country needs someone who can only focus on social issues and poor ones at that, or perhaps Mr. Mourdock all of a sudden doesn't want to be burdened by being in Congress because this a sure way to lose.

    He reminds me a saying by Mark Twain - “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

    October 23, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  4. Alex

    The candidate forgets that fewer and fewer Americans each year believe in some imaginary god, and will not take a child of rape to be "divine".

    October 23, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  5. debbie skeen

    So... if a woman (or girl) is raped and becomes pregnant it's God's will for that baby to be born and she should not be able to get an abortion. BUT, if a woman's life is endangered due to pregnancy she SHOULD be able to get an abortion. That's really screwed up logic. Is the life of a baby conceived in wedlock any less important because the mother's life is endangered than the life of a baby conceived through violence? Is the rape victim any less important than the consenting mother-to-be? Both babies are precious and gifts from God. Both women are at risk. What is the difference??? Who has the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body???

    October 23, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. chris

    Republican... what a surprise...

    October 23, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  7. Morning1Su,

    Thought I heard it all.

    October 23, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  8. ron

    There are metaphors for rape..but if there was it would be: If you vote GOP then you are asking to be taken advantage of. Are there woman out there who will vote for these idiots?

    October 23, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  9. komododr

    Hahahaha...there's another REPUBLICAN, TEA PARTY genius. The U.S. Congress is full of congressman just like him.

    October 23, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  10. Peter

    Only a stupid American Republican can say something like this. No wonder the rest of the world thinks that America has gone down the drain with all rabid religious ramblings. If there is a God, which I seriuosly dobut, he must be proud of candidate Walsh to bestow upon Him the hideous act of rape. I wonder how he would feel if any member of his family got raped and pregrant? He would hardly fall on his knees and thank his god for that. He would load his guns, seek outthe perpetrator and shoot him. So much for god's will. Hypocrite.

    October 23, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  11. PAJ

    So it's God's will that a pregnacy occurs as a result of a rape? Gack!

    Pregnancy occurs due to the laws of nature. Rape has nothing to do with it. But to proclaim that God intended for a rape victim to become pregnant merely adds insult to injury. Really, who could think such a thing? This is not a GOP thing or a Democrat thing, this is an idiot thing. When people like this get assaulted, robbed, or killed, we can proclaim that it must have been God's will too. Gack!

    October 23, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  12. gold

    Incredible. Candidates who believe in religion based nonsense like this should be disqualified from holding public office in our secular country under the second amendment.

    October 23, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  13. fetus from the abyss

    A Rather poor deflection.

    October 23, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  14. JASON

    why would anyone vote for a prorape party?

    October 23, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  15. Kelcy

    You have got to be kidding me. Who are these yahoos? Why would women in these states vote for them at all?

    October 23, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  16. pragmatic

    There are many people like myself who believe that pregnancy is only the statistical result of sperm meeting egg in the same way that seeds polinate. There is no blessing, there is no gift, it's just a numbers game. Children of rape are never seen as a gift, they are viewed by many as a horrible curse, and are often treated as such. If I ever had a pregnancy by rape I would terminate it as quickly as possible, that cursed little collection of rape-cells. Enough punishment as it is, to live with the curse of rape. I would NEVER consider living with the child, or taking it full term. That would be horrible beyond imagination to me.

    October 23, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  17. G. Baez

    I have the same respect for an idiot like this as I do for an affirmative action, social justice, liberal democrat. Exactly none.

    October 23, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  18. Say it ain't so

    You're stupid for saying this. Rape is not God's will you moron, only thing you're gonna do with this is inflame many people's misconception that those of us who follow God are crazy.

    October 23, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  19. Kris

    He'll go down in history with the likes of Palin and others. Open mouth. Reveal stupidity. Lose.

    October 23, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  20. G. Baez

    I have the same respect for an idiot like this as I do for an affirmative action, social justice, liberal democrat. Exactly none.

    October 23, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  21. Colin

    The only thing that surprises me about when somebody says something like this is that people still cling to this belief that we live in the greatest country in the world, that we're the leaders of the "Free" world. To me, it sounds increasingly like I live in Middle Ages Europe and not in the country that put men on the moon. It's 2012, not 1412.

    October 23, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  22. richard rebiere

    He struggled with it himself for a long time???....after all of that, how is it that the wrong guy won? If he knows what God intends, I will have a couple of follow up questions....

    October 23, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  23. McKenzie Mack

    It makes me sick to see MALE Republican candidates wanting to dictate to a woman about a woman's body issues. It reminds me of Republican Bachman and her rediculous iindefensible positions on gay (me) issues. Romney holds the same positions on women and gays. Yet, I can not comprehend why either a woman or a gay would even consider supporting Romney or such people. Yet, my gay brothers and my sisters support the very candidates who choose to advocate reversion to DADT amd coathangers. WHY???

    October 23, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  24. mike

    God doesn't intend rape or condone it in any way. He is the Redeemer of life. Dude is confusing the two issues. God wouldn't want to see any of his blessing destroyed. What man and/or the devil intended for bad he redeems for his glory. The child can come into the world knowing he has a special destiny to bless the mother that bore him and do great things with his chance in life.

    October 23, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  25. XParasite

    Those voting for Romney- These are the type of people you are getting in bed with by voting republican this election. Not only will they lie to you to make the rich more rich, they also are completely insane to think that god is giving you a gift when you get pregnant for rape. Any women voting GOP need to take a long look in the mirror and think about what they really want for themselves.

    October 23, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
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