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. nc1965

    Well, Romney endorsed this guy. Romney believes in this guy.

    Women. Pay attention to what Romney does, not what he says.

    October 24, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. gold

    Under the second amendment, people with views like this should be barred from holding public office.

    October 24, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. Anonymous

    The Bible gave 10 Commandments. Which of these are the tea bags breaking daily? Would they be honest enough to confess them. The Bible says if you break one you have broken all because all sin is the same. So if you lie, you have killed. If you commit adultery, you have killed, if you idolize money fame and things over the Lord you have sinned and killed likewise. In all things God can and will forgive. Not so with "man" who like to finger point, blame and oppress others with laws (like the Taliban) they would never live under themselves. And they make laws to hurt specifically women by adding insult to injury in carrying a baby conceived by evil rape.

    October 24, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. hmm

    Does it mean that the rape is also Gods will?

    October 24, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. MarkinFL

    If the pregnancy is God's will then its inescapable that r ap e is as well since the pregnancy could not have occurred without the r ap e. Anyone that worships such a God is a sick.

    October 24, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. heather

    So what these guys are blatantly saying is that women and girls have NO right to decide what can use their bodies to live and grow? Any living thing can simply use a woman or a girls body to live, against their will. So if we follow this logic, then it must also be ok to FORCE someone to give up one of their kidneys to someone else who needs it to live? Do we have a right to decide what our own bodies are used for or not? Isn't this an obvious fundamental right? A right to our own body???Must women/girls be forced to give up this right if they become pregnant? It's as if once they become pregnant, they are rendered worthless – their rights become unimportant – the rights of the "gift from god" are now the most important and trump the rights of the woman/girl who is pregnant. I know many people think this is ok. I don't. I think this mindset devalues women and girls on such a very deep level and that the negative impact of it is more far reaching and devastating than we can even imagine.

    October 24, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  7. Dlws

    If god is in charge of everything, then what is the point of people doing anything. If god wants us to survive, god will provide. That presupposes that at least one of the thousands of gods created by humans actually exists.

    October 24, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Hattir

    I was raped and conceived my middle son, so this statement really hit home for me. I never bonded with my son, I considered putting him up for adoption. I kept him and am now raising him with my best friend who is now my husband and the father of my youngest son. I believe fully God will not wput on you more then you can bare. I also believe he allows everything to happen for a reason. So, He knew that I could over come and survive being raped, He knew that I'd eventually grow a stronger bond with my second son then I have with ANYONE and He knew that by my son.being conceived that it'd help me find my best friend and soul mate, that he'd realize he was ready to grow up and that we'd be more then happy together raising babies and being completely in love. I'd have never found him had I not had to deal with what I did June 11th 2010.

    October 24, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. Mike

    This man needs to spend a lot more time with religiously knowledgable people. He should also try reading the bible, especially the New Testament. His implication is that everything that happens is God's will. Did he ever consider that God merely allows these things to occur to see how we respond rather than being designated? He is religiously challenged, as are the likes of Palin and Bachmann.

    October 24, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. Well

    Well this is it. Obama just got my vote

    October 24, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  11. Boomer in Mo

    When men can get pregnant from rape, then they can comment on getting pregnant from a rape. Many women would continue a rape-caused pregnancy, and many would not. It is none of my business what they decide because I do not know anything about them. It is a decision for the woman, her doctor and her family, perhaps with a minister's counsel, to make, not mine and certainly not Mr. Mourdock's.

    October 24, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Sharl

    Wow....I am just speechless......

    October 24, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  13. traceya117

    We understand this, right? Just more Redub pandering. His daughter wouldn't suffer any such indignities. We get it, right?

    October 24, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. SDFrankie

    He didn't mean to say that rape was God's will. Rape is horrible and God would never intend it to happen. What he was saying was that IF a rape occurred, completely outside of God's control, God might take advantage of that opportunity to bring an unwanted baby into this lovely world of ours. Now that's not crazy is it?

    October 24, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  15. June C.

    Connect the dots Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh, Todd Akin, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney. They have the same philosophy and are connected at the hip. Crazies 🙁

    October 24, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  16. Mommas boy

    His rationale borders near insanity, if we say that a violent act of rape is Gods will, then why can't the act of abortion also be his will. I love how people spin the bible the way they spin politics

    October 24, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  17. traceya117

    We understand this. Just more Redub pandering. His daughter wouldn't suffer any such indignities. We get it, right?

    October 24, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  18. LivingHistory

    If a pregnancy caused by rape is God's will, then logically the rape itself was God's will. You can't have it both ways.

    October 24, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  19. jt_flyer

    This is getting serious. Republicans need to take control of their party and clean house!

    October 24, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. JB

    I hope people wake up and realize that this is not what we want for our country. We need these people out of office and out of the lime light. They do not represent me.

    October 24, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  21. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    Mourdock lacks the mental facilities to be aught but a privy-cleaner–I even question if he could do that. The sad thing is that he is vocalizing what many other Repugnats (like Aken) also believe. Welcome to the American Taliban.

    October 24, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. Cynthia

    Outlaw Viagra and Cialis then. Erectile dysfunction is God's will.

    October 24, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  23. Monica

    The will of God is that there is a life, not that the woman was raped. The rape was not the will of God but the free will of the person who commited the violent act. It is our abuse of free the free will God gives us that is wrong.

    October 24, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. Anonymous

    John Cornyn from Texas is an embarrassment. How dare you go out there and defend this nut job. There is nothing true about his statement and you are stupid to agree with this lie.


    October 24, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. Joel

    Is anyone surprised that a Republican named Dick is the one who thinks he should be able to legislatively force a woman to have a child that resulted from a rape?

    October 24, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
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