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. TheseIdiots

    So rape must also be god's will. And this religious nutbag is a god loving sicko. This candidate endorses rape.

    October 24, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Steven Morris

    While we all should agree this is a very difficult topic. These are also WOMEN'S rights not mans. How or why should government be dictated by religion. Athough I do consider myself a Christian, religion has no place in government yet mass moral oppinion. As stated above have we forgotten about the devil? Why would any true Christian feel or even state that rape is Gods will??? Indiana if you vote for this guy, may GOD truely help YOU!!

    October 24, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. guslv

    Forced pregnancy – That is what this jerk is advocating. No way should a woman be forced to put up with a pregnancy from rape unless she so chooses. Is anyone sure this jerk is not Taliban?

    October 24, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. quagmire

    Foot, meet mouth.

    October 24, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. sonny chapman

    I'm a Criminal Defense Atty. I'm gonna use that theory defending my next Rape Case. The Rapist was only TRYING to do God's Will.

    October 24, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Saksky

    You are saying that if pregnancy resulted from a rape were God's will, then how could you legally prosecute rape because the culprit just executed the will of God?

    What a stupid statement, Richard!
    I am telling you if you were elected, the Indianian voters would be the stupidest ones on earth....no matter they are pro-choice or pro-life...

    October 24, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  7. lucas

    I will rape this guy then shoot a load in his face and say this is gods will dont turn me into the police. (sarcasm) What a huge dick this guy is. I hope he gets raped

    October 24, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  8. Gobsmacked

    Does it really suprise anyone that they believe in this. What would you call it when God got Mary pregnant without her consent? I'd call it rape.

    October 24, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. Shrutva

    Even if he tries to do damage control, his comment smacks of hypocrisy. The best way to answer him is to ensure he does not gets elected to the senate. He has become the face of the Republican party which truly stands for extremism.

    October 24, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  10. JohnK

    Not sure why anyone is surprised by Republican extemism. If they win the election, we not only have to worry about Romney the flip-flopper, but also extremist idiots in congress who will feel free to pursue their crazy right-wing agenda.

    October 24, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  11. Justin O'Pinion

    This type of fundamentalist Christianity is to spirituality what bayonets and horses are to modern warfare.

    October 24, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  12. Bonnie Daker

    Mr President I am yours for sure now!

    October 24, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. anon

    And today or tomorrow, Romney will issue a stronger rejection of Mourlock's ridiculous statement, but DO NOT BE FOOLED! They are all on the same team, same party, same platform.

    Don't believe the nonsense that Romney/Ryan is a moderate ticket. They are lying to you!

    Ryan coauthored personhood legislation with Aiken!

    They are all part of the same very dangerous party.

    October 24, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. amazed

    As a gay woman in a relationship for 26 yrs.I have seen and heard rants of these people its so sad I'm the one God forbids,women have no rights because god says sad I believe and sit back and think WOW what a mess because they believe all they say is the way GOD wants it .Not a day by I wake-up and shake my at these people think they want to run the country one word YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES!

    October 24, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. Sherri

    I hope the citizens of Indiana read this and vote this man out. And never let him forget what he said. Women: THIS is how many men feel about rape. It's god's will. Horrific! This man is a backwards animal. Let him know it when you go to the polls.

    October 24, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Patriot

    Another poster boy for the Republican Party. What more does it take to make folks realize how incredibly dangerous these 'new' conservatives really are?

    October 24, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |

    I want Mr. Murdock to take this one step further. This Child will have half the genes of the rapist. It may even look like the rapist. This woman will be reminded of this rape on a daily basis for the rest of her life. Only a man could come up with justification for this kind of punishment for an innocent woman. I hope the people of Indiana realize that anyone who thinks like he does, can't be a good congressman. He can't see the whole picture. This is 2012. Most of us have evolved, unforntunately, not all.

    October 24, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. Boo

    Will someone please tell me WHO THE HELL VOTES FOR THESE IDIOTS?

    October 24, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  19. anonymous

    I believe that God feels that ignorant people should keep their mouths shut. When a man can fully understand what a woman endures on any given day, then maybe, and just "maybe" he can feel free to flap his yap.

    October 24, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  20. Mick

    " for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick"

    No twisting necessary...you dug your own grave.

    October 24, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. No More god

    I think if you mention the word "god" in politics, you should be banned from running for anything. I am so sick of this nation picking a political side based off of a mythical being.

    October 24, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. Donnie the Lion

    "He should also try reading the bible, especially the New Testament." I am sure Mourdock would comment that he has the read the Bible multiple times.

    October 24, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  23. godisagirl

    I'm stunned by the idiocy of these comments. If conceiving a child through rape is "god's will" then I guess cancer, murder, IMPOTENCY, child rape/torture, alzheimers etc.... all god's will. so if it is, it is best to not mess with gods will. No more chemo, viagra, medication or capital punishment for rapists, because clearly this is
    gods. frickin. will.

    October 24, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  24. Mike Fischer

    Can we please vote people like this out of all office positions from now on please?

    October 24, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. JAB62

    Never listen to and never ever vote for anyone who says he knows what god wants.

    October 24, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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