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. Peikovi

    The GOP has an internal struggle between capitalists and medievals.

    October 24, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. NameCarlos Ramiez

    The guy has it all wrong its not Gods plan its satans now its up to that person to call on God for help and to trust in him.its where faith comes in and to know Christ as your lord and savior

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

    Charles Manson said the same thing about his murders and so did Dahmer. Sick!

    October 24, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  4. rainyday

    Well, this seals it. I am sitting here with my mail-in ballot, still undecided. I wached the debates, I considered the issues – and I don't fully believe in Obama or Romney. But one more GOP ultra-conservative, tea partyist who will take the right to choose away from women (and who knows what else) just swung my vote to Obama. I am now a decided voter. I do believe that Romney could do some good for America. But I can't risk it.

    October 24, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  5. Jesse

    "God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick," he continued.

    October 24, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. Ryan

    guy rapes girl, girl gets pregnant = god's will
    girl get's abortion because she doesn't want to carry a rapists baby = not god's will?

    October 24, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. JihadisSukIt

    The GOP has an internal struggle between capitalists and medievals.

    October 24, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. Dennis

    Let the attacker free!

    October 24, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. Thomas

    Mitt Romney / Richard Mourdock

    ourdock has enjoyed support from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who traveled to Indiana in August to campaign for the tea party-backed candidate alongside former Vice President Dan Quayle and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Romney has also appeared in a television ad for Mourdock.

    October 24, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  10. DC

    So, it's safe to say that if someone were to rape his wife and/or daughters and they became pregnant, he would gladly accept that child into his home as well as make his wife and/or daughters birth the child?

    Personally, I hope he went home and his wife slap the ever loving crap out of him!

    October 24, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  11. Dennis

    President Obama couldn't buy a campaign ad this good.

    October 24, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. Al from Pittsburgh

    Ladies and Gentlemen, here is your Republican party. Again.

    October 24, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. strohs01

    So, rape victims should not go to the police by should instead go to Hallmark and buy a thank you card to send to the rapist. How this moron is able to tie his own shoes in the morning is baffling. People's beliefs are their own but if God has the control Mourdock claims you'd think the pregnancy would be "blessed" upon a couple trying to have a child. Mourdock all but implies a woman's sole purpose is to give birth. How she is treated and the quality of her life don't matter. Tough to criticize the practices of the Taliban if people are dumb enough to elect moron's like this.

    October 24, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  14. Jean

    So anything that happens is "god's" will and we should just accept it? By that logic, we shouldn't try to fix anything.

    October 24, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  15. someone

    Mr. Murdock you are a sick man.

    October 24, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  16. Michael in Houston

    Good grief...where does the GOP get these kind of creeps? I mean for crying out loud.....they keep trotting them out as if there is an endless supply of them to the point they appear to be a party overstocked with the worst people imaginable. I mean never mind their politics....its the abundance of weirdness and freakshows that is truley staggering.

    October 24, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  17. Natalie

    This has me speechless, and I'm never speechless......wake up, women!

    October 24, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  18. rexdogcanadien

    God's wish??? This god of whom he speaks must be the Devils who endorsed him. How insensitive! How uncaring! How absurd! How serpentine! One never speaks contrary to what s/he believes. And s/he never forgets what s/he believes. If rape is condoned by God then God is evil.

    October 24, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. I_Know_More _Than_You

    Hypocrite. Go all the way with it Mourdock. If the mother dies, that's God's will too right? Who are you to stand in the way?

    October 24, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. Sandibeach

    And when these women cannot financially support these children who are gifted from God, they are ridiculed for getting pregnant in the first place. They cannot have it both ways. Right to life also means right to quality of life. These same people pushing for an end to abortion, are the same who refuse to pay taxes to support those who are born.

    October 24, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. midwest rail

    The devolving right wing extremists have become so delusional that there is simply no way to engage them in reasonable discourse.

    October 24, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  22. Fluffles

    These days I find myself looking around to see if I'm actually living in the 1950's. There is no twisting this man's words. He said what he said, loud and clear. A do not understand how these people have gained such a loud voice.

    October 24, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. jim

    holy political fail, this guy is a m0ron

    October 24, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. sick

    s.c.u.m.b.a.g. You just gave men the go ahead to rape women and say it is God's will. Thanks.

    October 24, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Dan

    Right or wrong his understanding that God is the giver of life is correct but God also gave the woman her life. Would the mother of the child love it and give it a good life or would she love it less than a child deserves. Only the woman knows her feelings. A sister in law of mine told her young son "I hate you" and meant it. He grew up to be a criminal and is now in prison. I cry for him often, others hate him because he harmed them. This kid had it in him to be something good and a blessing but because his mother did not want him; his life was not a blessing from God.

    October 24, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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