(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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I think that saying this man has no right to have this opinion is a violation of freedom of speech. Romney did NOT say he endorsed this man because of his views on abortion, it was based on his record in office. Why does the media always jump on a comment and make a big deal out of it? Mr. Mourdock was stating his opinion, after careful consideration, does not every American have that right? If not, then these comments are all wrong to be on here!
Vote these nutty fools out of office, people. Now is the time.
If the Republicans get their way and all abortions are banned with no exceptions Doctors will say in the exam room "Let her die, better her dead than me in jail" And that is the day America will as wonderful as Pakistan.
STOP! Any candidate who quotes any religious view should not run for office in this country. We have separation of church and state for a good reason and smater people than I decided that (Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc.).
I am a believer in a higher power that loves ME, but also that the secular status of the United States of America leads us to make laws that protect the rights of all citizens.
OLD ANGRY WHITE GUYS... all thats left in the GOP....
Anyone else not care about abortion either way? The way the campaigning is going, it would seem that picking the right side on abortion will magically fix all of the countries problems.....
If that's true, then could murder be considered part of God's will since He allows it to happen?
The best way for liberals to combat pro-life morons is to NOT talk about abortions rights. Abortion truly affects only those who don't vote . The best way to keep right wing nut jobs out of office is to debate them on issues that affect the majority of the electorate .
Makes me sick...about time religion and politics are separated. Government and the country would be better off with folk like this removed from contention for running for office. Enough of god in political rhetoric.
If god supposedly intends the child out of rape, does he not then intend the child in a case where the mother's life is at risk. The argument seems very conditional and contradicting. Just as all arguments based on religion.
Lets give him the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure he was only referring to "illigitimate" rapes.
Well, that was a political nuclear football, and he just dropped it. Quick, jump out of the way!
Which god, Mr. Mourdock? Perhaps you should prove that your god exists before using him as an excuse to further victimize women who have already been criminally as.saulted.
I see Rommney has distanced himself from this idiot but has not RESTRACTED HIS ENDORSEMENT of him. Shameful!!! God did not intend for anyone to have a baby from rape!
I can only assume this man has attained his lofty position in life, either through blind luck or by extreme, inherited wealth, or both.
How else do you explain, such a crass, stupid, ignorant, (I'd say Neanderthal, but that would be insulting, to our ancestors) comment?
Men like this, create a good argument for euthanasia.
Life is a gift from God but that does not mean it is God's will any woman gets raped and impregnated.
This man needs to check the definition of rape for a start. What an idiot!
Women while being raped don't scremm...don't try to call 9-1-1...just bear the suffering..It is God's will after all
STOP THE NEOCON- GOP AGENDA
Good Gravy! I joked with friends months ago that the Republicans had been taken over by pod people. Now I just think that whatever the Koch brothers shipped out in the Republican lemonade has worked....how many pin-headded anti-women idiots do we have to endure before this sad part of our history ends?
Between this, Akin's comments and Ryan's Legitimate Rape bill, I am now sure the Republican Party wants to bring women's rights back 50 years. Voting blue straight down the line. Enough is enough!
Although it was a stupid thing to say out loud, based on what I learned in Catholic School, he's really right . We learned that every aspect of our lives, from birth to death, has already determined. One reason I don't believe in religion anymore. Some of us are doomed to pathetic lives filled with misery and dispair and everything in between. I can't believe that someone has not used this as a defense in a criminal case. I believe in God. God chose this path for me. It's not my fault it's illegal and I had no choice in committing the crime, as God intended it to happen. Sounds reasonable to me. If we have the ability to make choices, wouldn't making one choice as opposed to another choice be going against God's plan unless the plan was to make the choice you did even though it turned out badly for you? So if I choose not to believe in God, that decision has already been made so how is it fair to hold me accountable, (when I' dead), for not believing in God when that's been his plan for me all my life?
Jack-People don't want to believe there is actually a devil just like they don't want to believe there is actually God. Nothing bad comes from God, only good. You are correct, all evil comes from the devil.
Shame on Rommney for not RETRACTING his endorsement of this Idiot. His view that God intends it, is Shameful!!!!!
I just can't believe that the "christian" right use rape as a legitimate form of contraception.
Will all religious fanatics leave the Republican Party please? Since when does a "less government" view suddenly mean more government involvement in our lives. This guy, and all who seek to use religion to push for government influence in our lives, are closet Democrats. They just won't admit it to themselves. Please, you are giving all conservatives a bad name with your insane religious views. Ever heard of the separation of Church & State or are you just picking & choosing like you do with the Bible?