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. JP

    "Mourdock...is facing Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly in November's election...A Howey/DePauw University poll taken September 19-23 showed Donnelly at 40% and Mourdock at 38% among likely Indiana voters."

    And what about the other 22% CNN? Did you forget about Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning? The 2-party status quo has you in the bag, baby. CNN = faux journalism.

    October 24, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. Sheryl Barnes

    Who cares what you ( or any strange man) think. You are not in charge of my body and I will fight to keep it that way for generations to come. What country is this?

    October 24, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. Lovetwo

    Rape is not God ordained. Rape is a free will act of evil and abuse against women; women who God Loves very much. Anyone who would suggest that God ordained a seed of rape is as evil and abusive as the rapist himself. Anyone who votes for such an ideal, that God ordains the rape and abuse of women are evil. These candidates who the evil vote for do not only appreciate rape; they also appreciate war and the protection of the anti-Christ and the dissemination of our planet with vast oil and other destructive interests. They are the oppressors in Satan's army. Anyone who votes for these candidates of Satan will reap what they sow, "tarra". It is the end of times/ It is written as you All well know. If you vote for Satan's army; you will receive hell on earth and starvation of the masses due to sociopath greed/ in favour of a course of action and adaptation to rapid accelerated climate change, an action to Save the Planet, The Saviour is alive today and she is carefully watching over you. The time is here; the choice is yours. Please vote and be a part of God's army and peace on earth with equality among All people and All living things. May God Bless and Keep you All. Signed, Love/The Bride of Christ/ Omega/ The Last.

    October 24, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. This is complete insanity

    I am sick and tired of people calling themselves Christians and then saying and doing everything contrary to what Christ taught. The republican party needs to be dismantled because it is poison to our nation and makes true Christians look bad.

    October 24, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. srh

    It will also be God's will that you will loose this election.

    October 24, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. Just Wondering

    This is much different from the views held by the Taliban towards women how, exactly?

    October 24, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. GI Joe

    Let me put it very delicately - if any of those white republican men had a wife or a daughter raped by a (gasp) black male, how fast would the abortion be performed?

    October 24, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    Looks like another GOP/Tea Party conservative Family Values candidate stuck in the Dark Ages. Romney can't run away from all of them in his attempt to appear moderate.

    October 24, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. juice

    "Mourdock said, explaining that he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger."

    This guy needs to be consistant. So now there's an exception to God's will? How does God favors one life over another?

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

    So, what you are saying is your god causes rape. I would argue that maybe your god intends for abortions to happen as well, but he does have laws against killing.... but doesn't bother to have any against rape. In fact, the punishment in the OT your god commands is that the rapist have to marry his victim.. because his victim is seen as chattel, not a human being with any rights. He damaged her father's property, so he must take that property off the father's hands. Your god is a disgusting monster... and so, sir, are you.

    October 24, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. MelkatMom

    Yeah, easy for him to say. But where is he when that child is being raised? Is he contributing financially? Is he providing counseling for the mother who has to look into a face every day that reminds her of her rapist? Is he providing clothing, food and education for that child? No, of course not. Once he says – It's God's will – he's off to another political rally. These people make me puke

    October 24, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. bob

    Reason number 419234 that religion is about ignorance and control

    October 24, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. the CleanUp Man

    Let's not forget, when these life-loving republicans force a woman to carry out the violation of her body through rape, then they will point the finger at "single mothers" later on (romney, the cause for violent shootings are single mother, debate 2),
    and then they cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, counseling, prenatal care and more. Fine people they are, those hypocrits.

    October 24, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  14. Amazed

    If you think about it, when you believe in 'God', shoudn't everything I mean everything that happens to people on this earth be because of 'God'? If you give credit to 'God' for the good, you have to give credit to 'God' for all bad, right? But you know the real fact is that people want to credit 'God' for all good because they choose to. They don't want to admit that 'God' really doesn't effect their lives truly, they only think 'God' does because they're supposed to.

    October 24, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  15. andreas

    american people support abortion?

    October 24, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  16. richard

    wow. i am so glad this dude has no chance of represening me.

    October 24, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. Dave Jaipersaud

    This is how Romney and the Republican plan to empower women. Romney wants to dictate to a woman what is best for her. He wants to stuff government down women’s throats and other body parts. The Republican Party believes certain types of rape are legitimate and the victims should have no reprieve if they get pregnant and that government should dictate to the victims what they can do to their bodies. This position is enshrined in the Republican Party’s’ platform, which Romney endorsed. Romney/Ryan and the Republican Party supported legislation that ban abortion that made no exception to what Akin called “LEGITIMATE RAPE”. In fact Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Akin to ban all such “LEGITIMATE RAPE” abortions co-sponsored legislation that would grant NO reprieve to women who were raped and over 200 House and Senate Republicans voted for it. How can you ever thrust these hypocrites. If this is Romney and the Republicans way of empowering women then imagine how terrible life would be for women under a Romney and Republican Administration.

    This is certainly a more radical Republican position than the previous Republican Administration. This is the Republican Party showing their true colors. If they should ever gain control of the Presidency, House and Senate, Americans should BEWARE.

    So my fellow humans, in America we have one party that believes certain types of rape is legitimate and the victim should have no reprieve if they get pregnant and that government should dictate to the victims what they can do to their bodies, while the other party believes that all forms of rape is illegal, morally wrong, and the victim should have a reprieve if they get pregnant and that government should not dictate to the victims what they can do to their bodies.
    People! You have a choice.

    October 24, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  18. but God loves infanticide

    According to the bible, God asks people to kill their own BORN children.

    October 24, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  19. Floyd Johnson

    I went to visit an elderly relative recovering from surgery. He was very animated about his pre-surgical introduction to the surgeon; "They were going to let that black fellow cut on me!" (his wife spoke with the staff in the hall and told them to go ahead because "he will never know"). I nodded my head if a fake agreement, because he is 90 years old, what he say is irrelevant, and he will die soon. At this point, the best option is to just nod our heads in agreement and wait for grandpa's generation to die.

    October 24, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  20. Poseidons Son

    Is this guy married?I wonder if he'd feel the same way if his wife was raped and became pregnant as a result

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

    Let the rapist free!

    October 24, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. Rational Thinker

    The face that ridiculous fairy tales from the bronze age have any bearing on modern politics is absurd. Abortion needs to be looked at from a scientific perspective, not a religious one. I feel that if a woman does not want a child, especially one that is a result of rape, then the woman has that right. I do not think that people should be making that call for them.

    October 24, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  23. ChrisVC

    If a woman gets pregnant by rape, and this is believed to be God's will, well then how is it any less God's will if she has a successful abortion – even if it is God's will by lack of doing anything to prevent the abortion?

    October 24, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. Ex-Republican

    This is one of the primary, albeit extreme, examples that prompted me to leave the Republican party to become purely an independent voter. The sellout to the extreme right wing, the absolute corruption that is American politics – both Dems and Reps – ($140 Million spent on Meg Whitman’s failed campaign…obscene and embarrassing), and the kowtowing to that idiot Norquist.

    October 24, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. Ernie

    I love abortions, the death penalty, assault weapons and euthanasia. I absolutely have no idea how I am going to vote.

    October 24, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
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