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. gordyb

    Where do these people come from? Mars.....

    October 24, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. MTP

    With any luck this person will lose the election. Then we can chalk that up to god's will also.

    October 24, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Chris

    So if pregnancies that result from rape are intended by God, then rape should be legal. Rape is not an act inteded to procreate it is an act of violence. If this is clearly the direction the country wants to go in, then the government should be required to take responsiblity for the lives of those brought inito this world via rape. The act of conception via rape has far reaching implications. the seed of anger does not siimply diminish or burn out after the inital action itself. If this man has "Struggled with this" for a long time , his abiltiy to remain competent while seated in office is questionable.

    October 24, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  4. kalo

    Republicans, wanting small government everywhere but dealing with killing soldiers and genitals.

    October 24, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  5. Brian Hartman

    I don't understand why this is controversial. Brace yourself: If you're a Christian, *you believe the same thing*, if you're honest.

    If God is omnipotent, He decides who gets pregnant and who doesn't. (And no, Satan doesn't get to decide. God is more powerful than Satan in Christian theology, remember?) Either God is omnipotent, or He's not. Theists can't have it both ways.

    I'm not an atheistic agnostic for exactly this reason. I acknowledge that the existence of God is possible, but I recognize Him for the monster He is, if he does exist.

    October 24, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. Cedar Rapids

    Why is it that those that make claims like rape babies being 'god's will' dont refuse to see a doctor or go to a hospital if they fall ill or are hurt? Isnt that also god's will?...he gave you the illness and he can take it away if he wants but surely you wouldnt go against god's will by trying to have it cured yourself?

    October 24, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. John

    This is almost a radical Islamic view of God.........Let god make all of your decisions for you.....should he be running for the senate?.......what about separation of church and state...........feel sorry for women if Romney wins.............

    October 24, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. JoJo

    What if the religious beliefs of these politicians, which they're basing their life & death decisions on, are wrong? What if their beliefs are just fantasies? Well, their indoctrination prohibits them from even considering that as a possibility. I gave up on religion years ago and became a Humanist, and I've never regreted the decision.

    October 24, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. znod

    Oh, I see. In some cases, God wants the raped woman to get pregnant and in some cases not. Gee, I wonder how It (God) decides which woman should get pregnant. Give me some insights here Christians.

    October 24, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Deni

    Any comment from any human about God's will is puzzling. As if the Almighty would consult any of us let alone a politician. Religion is such a joke.

    October 24, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Sarah

    God creates life, man can't do that. We can create flesh, we can't create life. Since when are we qualified to say whether it should be allowed to exist? Too many people try to play God, rather than to understand Him.

    October 24, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. romney

    so this is what romney stands for? all woman should be insulted and any woman voting republican , i hope are raped.

    October 24, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. TheRationale

    This is just shameful. What an awful idea to harbor. How people continue to believe in this ridi.culous and miserable Christian God, much less any other one, in the year 2012 is depressing.

    October 24, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. DL

    Those of you saying Romney doesn't support this guy are dead wrong...There are numberous videos on youtube where Romney stands up and gives praise to the tea party and birther movements. He is very clear in the video's that he thinks they are wonderful and 'real Americans'. This is why we cannot elect ANY republicans. These people refuse to kick out the extremists and they are allowing them to move their party towards insanity. Until they can get control of their own ranks, they don't need to hold any offices period.

    October 24, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  15. Al

    Twice in one campaign cycle. Obama has just won my vote by default

    October 24, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. SDArchman

    First, this is nothing more than a Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian move to get free publicity.
    Second: Perhaps this idiot could get a clue. Rape is crime of violence & it is never the woman's fault. If he can talk to God directly, wouldn't it make sense to ask him to stop this & all other heinous crimes altogether?

    October 24, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. emdcommonpac

    democrats dont have to campaign, they just have to wait for a republican to say something stupid.

    October 24, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. rs

    How can the GOP screw up Christianity so badly? Somehow to them it is: Right to hate and hurt the poor; to deny health care to the young, the poor, the elderly; obviously lying is a Christian value watching Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan in action; Now this- rape iand unwanted pregnancy is GOD'S WILL??

    Wasn't it Mr. Romney just the other night saying we had to stem the tide of radical religious fanaticsm in the Middle East- yet here the GOP is promoting EXACTLY the same fanaticism here?

    Th GOP is truly crazy.

    October 24, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. emdcommonpac

    when this politician loses his race, it will be Gods will also.

    October 24, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. Mentalk

    God has whispered to me and told me the GOP is going to get shellacked in November.

    October 24, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Big Al

    Yeah the people of Indiana dumped Lugar for this bozo. Real smart. I am a Republican and I really do hope the Dems win by a landslide. Like Florida ex Gov Charlie Crist said, I didnt leave the Republican party, they left me.

    October 24, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. Brian Hartman

    @Mike: If God allowed it to happen, it happened with God's consent, so how does that make Mourdock's statement wrong?

    October 24, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. kf

    Don't know what's more dissapointing, that 40% of people in Indiana backed this guy (before his comments) or that one of our presidential nominees endorsed him a week ago. People need to pay closer attention to the type of person they're voting for instead of voting partisan all the time. And I don't know what to make of Romney endorsing this guy.

    October 24, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. Just askin

    Hmm... so Mourdock is one of those 'horrible events that happen to other people are just "God's will"' types. It's such a convenient way to explain hurricanes, famines, war atrocities, diseases, etc. It must be nice to be able to close one's mind to other people's suffering by invoking one's religion.
    What would Mourdock say in the case of his own daughter or wife becoming pregnant due to rape?? God's will too? $50 bucks says he'd be rushing her off for an abortion faster than you can recite the "Lord's prayer".

    October 24, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. Voice

    Romney said he would NOT invest in job creation.
    From debate:
    ROMNEY: Well, first of all, it's not government that makes business successful. It's not government investments that makes businesses grow and hire people.

    October 24, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
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