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. BB

    If republicans can't leave religion out of politics what is the difference between them and the Taliban or other followers of the Koran who want a god-based government with laws based on the Koran? How can we march over there and extoll the virtues of democracy, with separation of church and state at its core, when we ourselves insist on making political decisions based on religious beliefs? Hypocrites are very good at judging others but not so good at judging themselves.

    October 24, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. GayAtheist

    Grapes taste good

    October 24, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Marry

    The GOP is at it again! Good to know...
    I am sure the Lord is neutral on this – but surely is amused watching his little lams and how most of them misrepresent HIM. He will have a word with them later...in the meantime, He lets the sun shine on good and bad!
    In this you should not call on God but relay on the brain and character he gave us (granted some more, some less). So, please do not bother God with this – go out and VOTE! And if you want God to smile, vote strait “D”!

    October 24, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. Jan


    October 24, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. cool

    Why don't we ever hear the opinion of women's organizations that feel the same way this senatorial candidate does? I personally think that he is wrong when it comes to rape, but do 100% of women? I'd like to know. It seems that it is always planned parenthood that gets the air time–and I find it hard to believe that they represent all women. Just wondering

    October 24, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  6. TomGI

    If Indiana elects a wacko like Mourdock, they deserve all the crazy legislation he has in store for them. I live in California and have no say in his election to the Senate. But if this loon is elected he may have some peripheral impact on my life through bills he supports or opposes. If he is elected, I will be watching things he sponsors or any committee he is appointed to and do my part to block anything he is involved with. BTW, where does Romney stand on this candidate, support, oppose or undecided?

    October 24, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. Coflyboy

    So if rape is God's will, all you women saying 'No' are sinners.

    October 24, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  8. sillyamiga

    if pregnancy is God's will and women can't get abortions then Viagra should also be against the law – it's God's will that you are no longer able to impregnate women.

    October 24, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  9. BLKMANinAmerica

    OK................look all you GOP crazies..............GOD will not send you to tell any on earth WHAT "GOD's WILL" is. I mean really dont you think for minute that GOD can do her JOB without any help from you or me!

    October 24, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. Sherri

    News Alert! The Republican party has officially changed their name: RAPEPLICANS

    October 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. CNN Loud Mouth

    If this is what Republicans will say OUT LOUD about women, imagine what they are thinking and NOT saying. Republicans have placed this nation on the fast track toward the days when women were "to be seen and not heard". Wake up women - this is the first step towards a nation's tolerance of domestic violence - how many more signs do you need to see?

    October 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. PTNY

    Women will not empower Republican Mitt Romney and life member Congressman Paul Ryan to make decisions for them.

    Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Richard Murdock (R), Todd Akin (R), Bob McDonnell (R), Rick Santorum (R) , Mitt Romney (R) Paul Ryan (R)...how many others are there...if one of them raped my 12
    year old daughter...somehow God meant for her to also become pregnant!

    Sorry gentlemen...how many times and ways you try to say it, we are NOT misconstruing your words anymore!

    October 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. lell

    Everything is the GOD'S WILL if you too trust god. So from this point, he is right. So dude, don't blame everything to god, god, if exist, cannot know so many things. Of course, some people will think I am wrong because god know everything.

    Another, it is not from Rommey. There are so many different guys in the world and they will do weired thing and weired thought.

    October 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. edward

    The candidate is NUTS! Number #1....rape is a crime and birth by crime is not God's will! Number #2....abortion should never be allowed as long as the BABY is not in harm's way. The mother has lived, the baby must have the opportunity to live.

    October 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. John Stockton

    Another shining example of neocon politics. These kind of people and those who either support them or refuse to denounce them are far more of a threat to my well-being than any foreigner. Republicans, old-school GOPers, should not only be embarrassed but they should be as concerned for the future of this country and humanity as I am! If you vote for Rmoney and the neocons, you are not my fellow countryman, you are my enemy.

    October 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. jim

    The really sick thing is people actually vote for @holes like this. Maybe we'll get lucky and "god's will" will be for him to come down with ebola or something.

    October 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. swingstater

    How is this a surprise to anyone?  No abortions, no exceptions is written right into the Republican platform.  
    And "Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email to The Associated Press." Really?  

    I guess it just slipped his mind that his running mate, Paul Ryan, co-sponsored the "Personhood" amendment with Todd Akin.  You remember, the one that says that a zygote is a person from the second of conception.  That was seen as so extreme that it was voted down even in Mississippi.

    Why is anyone surprised that this is what they believe?  They've told you often enough.

    October 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. Middle Class Independent Swing State Voter

    What happened to the moderate Republican party? This is a great example of why I left and now support the President. We can't afford extremists on either side of the aisle.

    October 24, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. jim

    Hopefully, God's will is that Mr. Mourdock contracts Ebola.

    October 24, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  20. michaelkeating

    He's just being intellectually honest. If you believe (as the Bible clearly teaches) that only God causes conception and therefore that life from the moment of conception is sacred, then you can't land anywhere else. This is a horrible forum for a theology debate, but if you do not believe that bad things happen that God intends for good in ways we never understand at the time then you do not understand the Bible which is full of these occurrences, or life which is equally full of them.

    That being said, politically I am not sure what he was trying to accomplish.

    October 24, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  21. Matt

    @Rational Thinker I dunno, Pleasantville sounds rather pleasant to me. I think they want us to go back even further, to the 1850s or something. This ain't the country I used to know.

    October 24, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. Coflyboy

    ...and there will still be people voting Republican. Mind-boggling.

    October 24, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. dreamer96

    SO it was Gods will for every rape around the world in all of human history....With a God like that why do we need Satan?

    October 24, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. thomasmc1957

    Modern "Christianity" is just an excuse to be evil.

    October 24, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. John D

    The GOP must remove this cancer from their party. The GOP better standup and denounce this individual. As a father of two girls, it is insulting how the GOP is treating women no better then the Taliban.

    I just became a single issue voter and will support my girls’ rights.

    October 24, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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