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. plumbline

    The statement by this man is absolutely ludicrous........God is for marriage, purity, virtue, and righteousness. Rape is the devils business, not Gods.........

    .........James 1:15-17
    15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.........

    October 24, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. hass

    great, now every rapist will rape women and call it hey it god's will. gad wanted you to get raped.. is this guy for real

    October 24, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Quagglechek

    And Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny all agree!!!

    October 24, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. indyreader

    " "God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick," he continued. "
    No one's twisting your words, Mourdock – your words are already more than twisted enough on their own. The big discontinuity, the big irrationality, the big logical flaw, is already there inherent in your words. I only hope enough of my fellow Indiana residents recognize you and Pence for the extremist ideologue Dominionists you are, and vote for your opponents.

    October 24, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. Unclephreddy

    And this guy defeated Lugar??

    October 24, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. Cedar Rapids

    "Hattir -I believe fully God will not wput on you more then you can bare"

    There are tens of thousands of suicides each year in the US alone, and a million worldwide, that proves you are wrong.

    October 24, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Larry L

    @Jack Sonberg

    These political comments about God's will are puzzling, since they ignore the Devil. Has the great promoter of evil disappeared from the Christian world? Why is allowing a rapist to succeed in fathering a child not viewed as a triumph of the Devil over God's will?
    That whole "Devil" thing is almost humorous. On one side we have this omnipotent super-hero – on the other the bad guy responsible for evil. So when a kid gets cancer it's the Devil's fault – when he's cured God did it. Sweet deal. The doomsday battle between the two suggests that God may not be powerful enough to control his own creation. I suggest he spend less time determining the outcome of football games by directing touchdown passes and field goals. The extra time will allow more martial arts practice and improve his chances in the big match with the Devil.

    October 24, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. PTNY

    "Somehow, God intended to happen"

    If God intended pregnancy as the outcome, then rape is not a crime?

    Ohhhhhh... who are these people that sit and ponder RAPE so often? ALL RAPE IS VIOLENT!

    October 24, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. dotheflippin'math

    Gee, I wonder how he would feel, if, say, his 12 year old daughter/granddaughter were raped and impregnated by a black sociopathic person with a congenital brain defect? Note: I am not racist, but I bet $$ he is. Even if he isn't racist, would he allow (force) a child whose body is not ready to carry/deliver a baby, even if it was the offspring of a rapist of another race with genetic defects that made him a rapist/sociopath, and carrying such offspring to term could be potentially (likely) fatal to the young victim? The world isn't black and white. It is many shades of gray. Neocons and fundamentalists of all religions are unable to grasp this. Romney stumped for this jerk. A Republican Senator just stood-up for his insane/evil views. THIS IS THE GOP!! For the love of God and children, please don't vote Republican. They think they know God better than anyone else, and that THEIR (crazy) religious beliefs should be the basis for US laws. I see ZERO difference between people like him and the Taliban. Both have zero respect for women's rights, and both demand that their religious views be used to determine LAWS for everyone else. Also, anyone who criticized Kerry for "flip-flopping" on issues, but doesn't see that Romney is the biggest flipper of them all, is either in denial, or a total hypocrite. These fundamentalist TeaPartyCons are the true face of intolerance and evil, and do NOT BELONG IN OUR GOVERNMENT, MUCH LESS ON OUR PLANET! Obama is doing the best he can to turn around an economy handed to him in a tailspin, and despite have the Tea-party freshmen in congress thwart every piece of legislation meant to HELP AMERICA RECOVER. They don't care about the poor and middle classes, or whether Grandpa gets his social security check, or cancer treatments. All they want is power and control over your money and personal lives. Until the GOP can field reasonably moderate and sane candidates, please don't vote for them. Jesus wouldn't.

    October 24, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. miraclewife

    If everyone would chill a bit, it would be nice, but let's help Obama get elected, right CNN? In this case, Mourdock was referring to the life of every child as being God's will, not the rape. He stated it very poorly, but everyone has to make such a big deal of it because it helps the left. Good grief!

    October 24, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. CHUCK

    But isn't everything God's will? You religious nuts can't have it both ways.

    October 24, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Manofcolor

    You guys act surprised................

    October 24, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. cateyes7

    You can just bet your booty that if it was a MAN who got pregnant as a result of rape, they certainly would justify abortions in that case!!!!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. H. L. Mencken

    If the voters of Indiana are not a tribe of troglodyte religious zealots, then I imagine it will also be god's will that this modern-day Torquemada gets buried in a landslide on Nov. 6.

    October 24, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. Dave

    The GOP nutjobs just seem to get dumber by the minute...

    October 24, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. Namebandstraw

    I am certain there is more to life then meets the eye. Karma certainly seems real. To use God to drum up votes and try and win an election is just what it is. Pretty bad karma. I don't see the Democrats claiming to be the "party of God" as often as Republicans. To claim knowledge of anything devine in politics is what it is.... dumb...

    October 24, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. MagicPanties

    Remember that Romney chose Ryan for VP, the guy who wants to outlaw all abortions (no exceptions).
    His choice is just as dangerous as McCain's Palin pick.

    Romney/Ryan – a ticket back to the dark ages.

    October 24, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. raul

    werent we fighting this ideology in afghanistan and iraq?

    October 24, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. PTNY

    Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) suggested on Thursday that exceptions to abortion bans were not necessary to protect the mother’s health because science had advanced to the point that pregnant women can’t die.

    October 24, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. jordans

    By this freaks logic 911 was Gods will. The firemen should have stayed out and let eveyone die because God willed the planes into the buildings because it was the victims time. How do these sick freaks get elected what is the matter with people voting for this trash.

    October 24, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. EJ

    And this guy has supporters.....

    October 24, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  22. Anonymous

    " Mourdock said, explaining that he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger. "

    In Mourdock-thought, wouldn't God take care of the mother if He (She?) wanted the mother to live??

    October 24, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. MJL

    If it's God's will, then I guess the rapist should not be arrested nor tried, huh....

    October 24, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  24. priestequalsaura

    I guess 9/11 was Gods will, along with Hitler and The convenience store being robbed, along with the red light that made me late to work, and the soup that went bad in my fridge yesterday. After all, everything is gods will and we have no control over it, so my staying in bed all day and stuffing my face with cheetos is what he intended.

    October 24, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. mike c

    This guy is an idiot. Of course he would say something like that. He's just like Rick Perry in Texas.

    October 24, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
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