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. Sly

    Religious people are very very scary people, and it is growing more and more important to exterminate all people that think these thoughts.

    Something like the Salem Witch Trials for anyone spouting any religious comments in public. Just burn them.

    Humans are just another animal, and we want to abort babies we'll do it. We do it now. We'll always do it.

    And a bunch of scary religious people ain't gonna stop us. Bring it on, fools.

    October 24, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. wcb2009

    Having religious extremists like this running our government makes me think we are no better than Iran.

    October 24, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Seth

    Perhaps if the majority of Americans choose to support women's free access to family planning, that is god's will too?

    When Obama wins reelection, I hope to see all the bible thumpers come together to rejoice that god has revealed his will to us.

    October 24, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. kim

    Welcome to the American Taliban. The Republican Party has just re-branded itself as the most repressive party on record. Romney and Ryan share the same religious views as this extremist, and they also believe that the government should be run as an extension of the church. The "magic underwear" of the Mormons will soon become the American Burka. All you red-neck Republicans are gonna get what you want, trouble is, the rest of the country will suffer because of your massive ignorance and racism.

    October 24, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. OregonTom

    How do people decide whether an action is god's will or not? Does an email go out?

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

    Let's hope it is also god's will for a lifetime of emotional care for the woman and lots of support and finances for the child....oh wait, I forgot, no big government. Oh but that is ok because there are so many loving and caring Repubs who will step up to help out....oh wait, this child and mom are takers....oh how is this going to end? A lifetime of pain, stress and too bad you got pregnant. Aiken says it is not legitimate.

    October 24, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. Bobpitt

    So what is the difference between this guy and the Taliban? Other than this guy had all the opportunities for a good education, and the Taliban are mostly tribal guys without a good education.

    October 24, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  8. Jules411

    This is what's wrong with the Republican Party! They have been hijacked by religious nut-jobs!

    October 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. PTNY

    "Somehow, God intended to happen"

    I'm beside myself...I have this low buzz pulsing through me.

    If Richard Murdock, Todd Akin, Bob McDonnell, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan...how many others are there...if one of them raped my 12 year old daughter...somehow God meant for her to also become pregnant!

    I seriously can't stop shaking my head NO! I'm shaking with OUTRAGE and have had enough of all of this.

    October 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. Name Kelly

    I can't believe once again we are hearing this. Throughout this campaign season we have heard one unbelievable and outrageous statement after another on this topic. Listen to these people and ask yourself if you think they are informed or intelligent enough to be entrusted with important decisions such as not only this one but the economy and the nations security. If I hear one more person say that his words were twisted or he misspoke my head will surely explode!

    October 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. JD

    Nobody twisted this moron's words as he claims. He said what he said He is the one who is "absurd and sick"

    October 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. MyManDarwin

    So by this logic, a whole new defense can be opened for rapists. 'It was god's will that led me to rape in order to bring god's miracle of life into the world".


    October 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. Alina77

    I guess he is going to bless your raped daughter of wife...together with her raper.. I don't care if a Republican or Democrat HE DOESN'T"T RESPECTS ANY OF You..

    October 24, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    The GOP just handed the Senate to the Democrats, and widened their margin as well. On any number of levels, this should conclusively demonstrate that the GOP is unfit to run the country, as if the other evidence of their "thinking" was not enough. This echos of the Taliban. This is not indicative of an advanced, socially tolerant and diverse society, it is is the exact opposite of that. How he was even comfortable saying this in public shows an appalling willingness to write fellow human beings off without a second thought, based upon something that he will never experience himself. He's a moral pauper.

    October 24, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. amazed

    So a 10 yr old girl is raped,you tell the little girl " YOU MUST HAVE THE BABY BECAUSE ITS A GIFT FROM GOD ! Put your barbies up,clean your room,and thank lord above and a LOONEY TOON THAT MAKES ME GLAD I HAD A HYSTERECTMY!!!!!!!!!!! WOW, UNBELIEVIBLE!

    October 24, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. glorydays

    Where the heck do these idiots come from????? And what kind of fool would vote for them?????

    October 24, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. MarkinFL

    Since God allows the Devil to do his thing it still comes back to god. Unless you believe the devil is outside of god's control which would mean he is not omnipotent.

    October 24, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. Sam

    So let me get this right. A woman can be raped and her attacker can get her pregant. This buffoon wants to protect the unborn child she doesn't want because of the violent, heinous nature in which it was unwillingful conceived, put the father in jail for the act leaving the mother with no one to help raise the child or pay for expenses. Further, if the father stays out of jail, he gets sued for child support and can counter sue for visitation. So if a man wants a baby, he can just go pick a woman, force himself on her and create one? Seriously? Is this what we, as America, really want?

    October 24, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. SoSad

    REALLY – "I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I realized that life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen," Mourdock said, explaining that he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger

    October 24, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Dave

    A comment like "gods will" sounds like the junk some Islamic terrorist would say. It's amazing how similar Christian rhetoric is to that of terrorists.

    October 24, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. Frank Burns

    By this reasoning, when stem cells spring to life in a laboratory to produce a new heart for someone, that is also God's will. So why is the GOP against "God's will" in some cases, and not in others?

    October 24, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. Land

    Wow what disturbing individual!

    October 24, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. academyvillageadvocate

    This man must be defeated–he has no respect for woman or victim rights. I am a republican but this man must be defeated

    October 24, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. iceload9

    With any luck it's Gods will for Mourdoch to lose. Who's fault is it when a candidate shows you how nuts they are and still wins?

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

    Who's God? If I do not have a god then who is responsible?

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