(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'm a pro choice Tea Party Conservative & this type of thinking from the right or left is dangerous. This clown doesn't need to be elected & I can't stand Leftards.
I could never vote Democrat, but I sure wouldn't vote for a caveman.
I'm an anti-abortion conservative and these people making these stupid statements make me cringe. And they are not helping the cause. I guess the libs have their fringe loonies and the conservatives do too.
Wouldn't it be interesting if an alien came and raped Richard Mourdock and implanted an alien baby in his body. I think he should have to keep it because it's God's will.
You know what? This clown needs to get his teeth knocked down his throat.
Why the exception for the life of the mother, Mr. Mourdock? If it's God's will for the child to be born, doesn't that make it God's will for the mother to die?
I would never wish rape on anyone, but this guy deserves to experience God's will.
this is the terrible mess of church and state. The ignorance and mind blowing stupidity of this statement. It's insensitive to EVERY victim of rape and to every intelligent person who reads or listens to it. VOTE HIM OUT FOREVER. If your gods will has rape in his plan, the disrespect I have for you and your church is incalculable.
even in the spiritual world we have choices so let women have their
We do not live in a christian country – a government official should be kicked out of office for this line of reasoning. Forcing a woman to carry a child because HE thinks that a god wanted it is obsurd.
Republicans and the far right are very weird.
Twisting spirituality and birth like this.
Americans the rest of the western world laughs at what you got there....Is rule by religiious theocracy coming next for you ? Just like in some middle eastern countries but just a different religion
Clearly, when these old, white men can become pregnant by violent rape, you will see their simple, crude, hurtful thought processes change quicker than Mr. Romney at a debate.
My friends- the GOP in a nutshell.
As disturbing and ludicrous as these comments may be, at least this guy will have the integrity not to change his stance tomorrow morning... take notes Mr. Romney.
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 "it was god's will you got pregnant". AND since you got pregnant, it wasn't even a legit rape according to Aiken!
And people vote for this type of nut job? Amazing.
What a sick, perverse, old, ignorant fool.
By Mourdock's nutty reasoning, it's also GOD'S WILL – and God is watching – when: 1) a woman dies from a beating by her husband (God could have saved her) 2) a little girl is raped and strangled 3) a brother rapes his sister and she gets pregnant, etc. etc. I used to vote Republican until they went on this nutty fundamentalist religion program.
How does HE know what the Will of God is? Does he have an extra antennae or ear that connects directly to the Creators heart ? I know that he THINKS he & only he & his "kind" can accurately discern the will of the Creator & that the "others" are wrong, but nobody KNOWS for sure. We'll ALL find the answer to the Big Question, what happens after death when we die. No one, not even Mr. Mourdock & his "kind" have a monopoly on this one.
If republican's like this guy manage to gain control of the country we are doomed as a nation. I love my country, but for the first time in my life, I'm scared that we are becoming a nation of zealots and that I'll have to raise my kids someplace else in order for them to have a reasonable shot in life. So very sad.
"The murder of right wing politicians is gods will."
"...God takes life, that's my point- it would be sick and absurd to suggest I am condoning the assassination of bigoted evangelical neanderthals."
See how this sounds? Prosecute the SOB for sheer stupidity.
Apparently in the current social discord the republican nuts jobs are finding it a comfortable place to voice their insanity. And I say Republican, well—because they seem to only be Republican! Cater to the religious right and you attract the crazy. When your leader wears magical underwear, what can anyone expect?
Hey Mourdock, if your daughter gets raped, just remember: It's a GIFT.
And if you (and any of the idiots from Indiana that voted for you) go to prison (because obviously you will and you don't know what the hell you are doing), know this: PRISON RAPE is also a GIFT from your God.
Simply sick, they need medicare help. That is why GOP is pushing for their own medicare reforms
Someone send this moron to the middle east. They are also 2000 years behind the times.
This is just shameful. What an awful idea to harbor. How people continue to believe in this ridiculous and miserable Christian God, much less any other one, in the year 2012 is depressing.