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. Thomas

    Men like Richard Mourdock and Mitt Romney and the rest of the Neocon religious extremist would nuke the world and say its gods will.

    The true horsemen of the Apocalypse .
    The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) , Mitch McConnell , U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri , In fact, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, released a statement Wednesday morning supporting Mourdock .

    Romney / Mourdock 2012

    October 24, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  2. Stephenson

    "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen"

    This is true, and instead of putting rapists in prison we must acknowledge they are God's chosen workers and free them all, right now, before our sins are held against us on Judgement Day.

    October 24, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |

    This is why the attendance at churches is on the decline. People are much more awake and aware now and just don't want to associate with dolts like this.

    October 24, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. Jay_B

    Trying to understand Richard Mourdocks reasoning is like trying to divide by zero.

    October 24, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. Mittens Rmoney

    The Taliban and I are all proud of Mr. Mourdock and his views.

    October 24, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. Ryan

    Enough is enough already. Where the hell has this country gone too? The fact that a moron like this has a legitimate shot to be a US Senator is depressing and should embarrass each one of us as Americans REGARDLESS of who you vote for.

    October 24, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  7. A. LIncoln

    So this guy must talk directly to The Man to know this, in other words he hears voices in his head. Is this the person Indianians want to elect? The guy is an absolute whack job not to mention an chauvinist and a moron. Let's hear it once again for organized religion!!! You Go God!!!

    October 24, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  8. NotPolitical

    This comment could very start a rash of rapes, because some idiot out there could take this very intelligent comment to heart. In their feeble mind they could think "I'm doing God's work by raping women for the purpose of spreading God's gift of life around." Not saying that it will happen, but there's always those few out there that take things to the extreme.

    October 24, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  9. Gerald

    23 million out of work, our Ambassador murdered, more on food stamps, Syrians slaughtered daily, and we are seeing :headlines" of a pro-life candidate as though this was something new? Desperate I tell ya.

    October 24, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  10. sputnick1

    This man is another good reason why abortion should remain legal

    October 24, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. Paul

    I am sick and tired of things like this... Once and for all There is NO GOD... It (he) does not exist. GROW UP

    October 24, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. kc

    So it is God's will for rape, but it is NOT God's will to let the mom die during pregnancy complications?

    October 24, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. FlinstonsTime

    I just hope this guy does not have any daughters, can you imagine someone going to rape them in the name of Gods will?

    October 24, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. wootings

    The Bible (et al) teaches us that everything that happens is according to God's will. Therefore, this guy is correct – God willed that girl/woman to be raped, and willed her to get pregnant.

    Sorry, religious retards...you don't get to pick and choose what is or isn't God's will. Either he's omnipotent and omniscient, and everything happens according to his plan...or he's not.

    Obviously, the correct answer is that he's neither omnipotent nor omniscient (and also, doesn't even exist). But you dipsh1ts just keep on going with your horrific morony.

    October 24, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Ignorance is Dangerous For All People and Living Things

    Wisening up changes things.

    Wisen up.

    October 24, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. Syndrome Zed

    The idea of excepting cases where the mother is at risk flies in the face of his reasoning on rape/incest. If that is a gift from God, then so is a regular pregnancy, even though the mother's life is at risk because of it. Why should that "gift from God" not also be forced on the mother?

    My guess is because she's a voter, or could potentially donate to his campaign.

    October 24, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. Waiting For A Candidate

    So then, if Mr. Mourdock is not elected that would be a gift from God. Amen

    October 24, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. carolusa

    If a rapist carries out god's will by impregnating a woman, then shouldn't he NOT be prosecuted? could be not his fault but God's will that wanted that baby? Sounds like a great defense to me....god was on his side!

    October 24, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. ES

    Oh, great. Another crazy republican male. Which of the god's will is it – Allah's or the holy trinity or Ganesha or Venus or any of the other hundreds of Gods.
    Even if God or Gods exist I am pretty sure as eternal beings they would have no interest in micromanging billions lives that pass before them in a blink of a second. In the grand scheme of things we are nothing and to think that some higher being takes time or cares to pre-plan our life for us is crazy.

    October 24, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  20. John

    Calling all Women....you have 2 weeks to decide if you want the crusty old white men, Akin, Murdoch and the like telling you who is in charge of your body........and what is worse, they want to blame it on god, so they won't be blamed for trying to control your lives......this is the 21rst century, do you want a 17th century government to take back control of your life?

    October 24, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  21. OregonTom

    If pregnancy due to rape is "god's will " then god has no business in making any sort of decision.

    October 24, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. lindaluttrell

    It is scary that Mourdock, Akin and others like them can even run for office while saying such things! If too many more of these neanderthals are elected, women may lost the vote as well!

    October 24, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. ronald raygun

    gods will is rather benevolent if you ask me

    October 24, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. OregonTom

    So god is promoting the crimes of rapists?

    October 24, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. Vikki

    Pure and simple MEN HAVE NO CLUE when it comes to what a woman deals with on a daily basis. We are in fear of being raped every single day. And to say WE have control or should be thankful of a child that may be spawned of that rape is insulting. God willing or not.

    October 24, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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