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. Robert

    This guy has GOT to be kidding!

    October 24, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. lB Colorado

    Rape is an act of EVIL in every possible form. I understand where this guy is coming from, but I can't support this. God is good. True that whatever has happened HE will turn it around for HIS good. We are not HIS to make happy, we are here for HIS purpose and HIS purpose alone.

    October 24, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. Annette

    According to Sen. Akin: Let’s just say I get raped. I’m assuming it’s not “legitimate” rape because, hey, I agreed to go to the party with this guy and wore a really cute outfit. Clearly, I was asking for it.

    According to Sen. Mourdock: Something must be wrong with my body as I was not able to “shut down the system.” Approximately nine months later I get a “special gift from God.”

    According to Sen. Grothman: Single parenthood should become outlawed.
    Now I’m a criminal with a defective body and a special gift that I can’t afford because I make about $8k less than the guy next to me doing the same job. Go GOP!!!

    October 24, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Blae1975

    God does not want rape.

    Yet rape is gods will.

    Your a moron buddy and you lost that race. Try not to drag the other Republicans down....nit wit.

    October 24, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. Name

    Wow! Just ridiculous!

    October 24, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  6. Paul

    Oh that Theocratic Empire of America party, what will they say next?

    1. If life begins at conception is it manslaughter or murder when a fertilized egg fails to implant ?

    2. What of the gift of Free Will? If everything is God's will what was the point of the fall in the garden and Christ's sacrifice (you know that long haired hippy that went on and on about helping the poor and not being greedy)?

    October 24, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. derp

    So, if I get this right, rape is god's will?

    So if I rape someone, can I just blame it on the big magic sly wizard?

    October 24, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. DC

    And it was God's will that crime took place in a store...and a person was stabbed...and that person was shot....and that person was raped...and in that country those people were killed in war was God's will and that successful abortion must have been God's will as well...and God's will allowed that crack addict to find another hit after robbing a families home...and those kids blown up in their school was God's will...not to mention the shootings in the malls and theatres, God willed it so it had to happen...unreal the people who get chosen to represent our citizens.

    October 24, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. Ipsut

    R's , especially for the past 12 years, have been an embarrassment to the USA

    October 24, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. r

    I am frightened for us as a species.

    October 24, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  11. Michael

    People worry about a dog & not a baby in the comfort of its mothers womb.

    October 24, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  12. Nikki

    CNN - I added the moron, Mourdock's office address & phone number to this forum, but YOU decided to delete my comment. Exactly why?? It isn't a secret – it was an office address for him. It's ONLINE. It was not any home address info on the fool.
    And exactly why, CNN, wasn't this moron's comment of greater importance to women voters than the photo and story on Bachmann???????????
    Where is your objective journalism? Integrity?

    October 24, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. truth

    @ChrisVC, great comment. This is something I struggle with as a Christian. Because something happens, was it God's will since He allowed it to happen? I do know this much, that if the woman decides to have an abortion, the Lord knows her heart and motives. If she decides to keep the baby, the same can be said. Either way His grace and love will be there for her regardless of the choice.

    October 24, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. richard

    God Intended? Where in the world is he from? GOD intends and yet it is horrible. We want such idiots to be inn our sacred halls of Congress? This is about saying he is against abortions PERIOD! These guys are kooks! Atkis, Broun from Georgia?
    We are going back in time and now we have extremists going into the halls of Congress. This is totally disgusting! This is the 21st Century? Am I going crazy? I agree a women body is her property and NO ONE has the right to dictate her choices.

    October 24, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  15. Bill C

    God's will my butt. Unfortunately the Republican Party will back this nutjob "because the win is critical for the party". This is the sad truth. Republicans= Party First, USA last, and women in chains unless keeping house or being raped.


    October 24, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. Rational Thinker

    All society needs to do is give up the idea that there is any sort of supernatural plan and start living here in the real world. I liked the one comment on here I saw about what the repulsican would do if his wife or daughter were raped and impregnated. Would he be happy to raise or help to raise that child, knowing that it will be a constant reminder of the horrific acts commited by another? I don't think so.

    October 24, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  17. Bill

    Weak minded fool doesn't realize how dangerous this kind of thinking is. He doesn't realize that the 'Gods will' argument can be applied to ANYTHING.

    October 24, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  18. Fluffles

    These are also people who believe that women have some advanced reproductive systems that can recognize when we are not happy about what is happening, and has ways to "shut the whole thing down". After all, we are just baby making machines, every machine must have an emergency shut-off, right?

    October 24, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  19. Dane Ison

    So whats the difference btw that and me shooting someone in the face. Is it really gods will if I say to my self he i'm gonna kill somebody....and i go out and do it.....was it really gods will? I don't think so

    October 24, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  20. cbtx67

    You know, he is right, but not for the reasons he thinks. If you believe in God, that God made all, then god made good, and bad, ergo it is god's will or at least responsibility.Free will doesn't apply in a fixed game. I personally don't believe in this much of a hands on god. But I understand his point. What I disagree with is the application of this logic and his belief to governmental rulings. There should be a medical group making that call, not a politician. Just like in Texas where we have so much problems because there are no educators on the school board, a dentist, a real estate agent, an artist, but no educators. That is why they try to take Jefferson out of the schools, and tried to rename slavery. This is similar. I notice no women are making these sweeping claims, I think it's because women in general are more in touch with the birds and bees by necessity then these senators. Although Ann Romney did state that She doesn't understand how a woman could get a job or even marry thinking she was equal to or even better than a man. There should be a common knowledge and IQ test before being allowed to run for office.As long as money is the key point in getting elected, nothing will be right and proper and fair. I don't spout about quantum physics or male pattern hair loss because I know bumkis about it. If I did, I would be rightly called a fool, as these men should.

    October 24, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  21. Dave

    Wow, I think it's pretty neat that we now have someone among us that knows God's will.

    October 24, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Maryland Voter

    As a Christian I can honestly say i wish we kept Religion out of politics. Its one thing to have your religious beliefs influence discussions you make but not to the point where these candidates are going. I'm not a fan of Biden but i have much respect for what he said at the VP debate. Theres a reason for separation of church and state. History will tell you they do not mix well at all.

    October 24, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  23. david

    If you truly believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God then everything is God's will and we are just pawns in his sick game of chess.

    October 24, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  24. Chris

    One difference... rape isn't make-believe!

    October 24, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  25. WoW, really?

    OK, one word... WOW! No. WAIT. More words... Since when do we still live in a country where men make these comments and decisions anymore? (Sorry, good men, this isn't you) How do these men make these statements and then have the disbelief women get mad?

    Duct-tape all of them, their opinions have just been revoked. Again, good men... chat freely amongst yourselves.

    October 24, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
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