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. Bob

    The Xitan Taliban is alive and well here in America.

    We have met the enemy, and he is us.

    October 24, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. max maxwell

    I also want to add another gift that God has given to us. My strength to pull the trigger if some hapless idiot decides to molest or "rape" one of my 4 girls. Where do these idiots come from? I don't think the God i believe in is the same one they "think " they know. What a waste of time giving this idiot even a sentence of published word.

    October 24, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. Christian with a brain.

    Here is the deal. If she believes as Mr. Murdock, then she will not choose to have an abortion. If she disagrees, however, then she should have that right to choose. God gave us free will. Who does the Republican Party think they are to legislate their own morality on everyone when even God allows for people to think for themselves?

    October 24, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. Bill

    I've been saying for a while now that Obama and/or his PACs should have run national campaigns that didn't just focus on Romney, but the absurd extremism of the entire Republican Party. Guys like this clown and Akin give perfect material to how anti-woman the GOP has become.

    October 24, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Hillcrester

    god save us from the insane theocrats ! ! !

    October 24, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rep. Joe Walsh, another tea party-backed Republican running for re-election in Illinois, questioned last week the necessity of allowing abortions if a mother's life is at risk, saying such an exemption to an abortion ban was simply a tool by pro-choice activists.
    If Illinois elects someone who has expressed this view they deserve what they get.

    October 24, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Steve O

    I hope you lose the election.

    God willing, of course.

    October 24, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. noteasilyswayed

    Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves...... intolerant, religious fanatics should never be elected to any office; unfortunately, the GOP has elected and continues to run many people who want to impose their religion on others. No woman should take the chance of voting for Republicans. Get the government out of women's private lives and bodies.

    October 24, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. Janice RN

    So, using his logic, if Mr. Mourdock were to be raped by someone who has herpes, would he be saying that it was "God's will" that he contracted herpes everytime he got an outbreak? I seriously doubt it.... I believe it would be a constant reminder of the egregious act that he had to endure. The same as it would be for some women who may look at the innocent face of a child conceived via rape.....yet see the face of their monster.

    October 24, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. Gloria

    This is scary! This man should not be in office!

    October 24, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. rob0rah

    Oh for christ's sake!!!!!!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. us_1776

    Indiana, PLEASE do not elect another of these GOP neanderthals.

    Did all GOP candidates have to ride the Short Bus to school?


    October 24, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. MrHanson


    Remember Jessica Ridgeway? Remember Jefferey Dahmer? This is the direct result in the belief that God is not watching what you are doing. You can get away with anything without worrying about the consequences. After all life is a purposeless accident. So think the next time you post your hate against Christians.

    October 24, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. ex-undecided Florida voters

    Obama just got our solid votes!

    October 24, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. bigdaddyhen

    You cannot say the outcome was god's will without having the cause be god's will as well. You cannot say, well it was not god's will that the gun fired at you, but it was his will that the bullet struck you.

    October 24, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  16. Amobius

    Conservatives may have some enticing views on the economy, but you always have to weigh that against how bat____ crazy they are on social issues.

    October 24, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  17. mdreader

    Republicans will only further dig in their heels and continue to vote for their party, regardless of the absolute ignorance and hatred that its exhibits. These folks are just stubborn and refuse to admit that they are on the wrong side of history.

    October 24, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. MrHanson

    Oh by the way Richard Dawkins, the role model and darling of all atheists, says that rape is morally arbitrary and is just part of our evolution.

    October 24, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  19. Shared_gum

    Actually, the Democrats are within the reach to win this seat in Indiana. Sure, they are down, but a comment like this can swing the election. Keep up the pressure!

    This man has no business running for office. None.

    October 24, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. Steven Morris

    Ok so he made a refraction to his comment to state that the child or a rape case is gods will. Even this being said what percentage of women would want to raise a child under these conditions. It's still a Woman's Right!

    October 24, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  21. Vince

    How typically Tea Party.

    October 24, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. jerryab

    Then doesn't the logic of that claim also mean men have been pre-ordained to be damned by God due to their inability to get pregnant?

    October 24, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Then isn't every abortion also God's will?

    October 24, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. Jerry

    These Repulicans keep getting crazier by the day.

    October 24, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. ghostriter

    What he was trying to get at is that God's plan is not for us to question. However, it seems that only republicans have any communications with God. I believe it is a sin to assume to know the mind of God. Which is one of the very convincing reasons why religion and govt don't mix.

    But if you believe that everything happens for a reason, then he has a point. For better or worse. The bigger point is still the belief that women should have no say in what goes on in her body.

    October 24, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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