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. Loopman

    @ Yet Again-Your comments are still awaiting moderation because they are so idiotic and outlandish that the Government is, at this very moment, looking up your address so that they can have a SWAT team come and deport you off to some muslim country where your stated beliefs are actually followed. How can anything that results from such a violent act against a woman be the will of God? The choice to keep a child concieved from a rape is up to the woman involved and her family, PERIOD!!!!! If they decide that they don't want to keep it, it is their decision not to. Not some babbling politician making any statement that he thinks will get him elected. People that spew that type of garbage don't deserve to be on any political ticket, Republican, Democrat or Independent.

    October 24, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. rockney

    OK then ... it's outside of the herd for this fool with the archaic notions. He's so dumb the predators will take him and do the world a favor.

    October 24, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. Brad

    If you believe in God than you believe in the Devil.. I think Satan had more to do with it than God. This is something woman has to factor into the equation when considering HER decision.

    October 24, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. jody

    my post got taken off and all i said was that God has no place i politics....period!

    October 24, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. StupidityShouldBeAFederalOffense

    When will the stupidity stop? Someone told me I should vote for the platform not the candidate, well this is telling me this is PART OF THEIR PLATFORM. These guys are mentally unstable if they believe this stuff. So far what I have gathered from republicans is that my body can self-abort(computers cant even do that), that the pregnancy is some sort of sick blessing, and that if I vote republican I can do nothing about it because they dont want abortions or to cover the contraceptions used to keep something like that from happening.

    October 24, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Norm

    The American Taliban is on the rise. They hate women, they hate freedom, they want nothing but complete control over our lives and will not stop until they force us to bend to their will.

    Islamic terrorists spread their religion by the sword and kill all non-believers. And the Republican Tea Party is doing the exact same thing. Now rape is a gift from God. What's next?

    October 24, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. Ivy

    I am really worried about these "men" running the senate and creating laws that affect women's reproductive and health choices. In this day and age I cannot even imagine how this man would be in the ballot. I don't think God is involved in the decision of a man raping a woman. If God is, it is not the God I want to believe in.

    October 24, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. JCMars

    According to Democrats, Abortion should be a Sacrament. Democrats want little 5 and 6 year old girls saying "I can't wait to have my first abortion."

    October 24, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. JMC

    Never mind on my above comment. I think she meant, she had to deal with having been raped on that date. Still, very compelling to learn some good came of bad. Shouldn't be used to eliminate legal abortions, though.

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

    This was a statement consistent with respect for life at all ages. I thought we quit punishing children for their parents' sins long ago? Why would a child conceived in rape have any less of a right to life than one conceived in any other way? Those who believe abortion is the taking of an innocent life but support exceptions for rape and incest are the sickest of the bunch. That said, abortion is the taking of innocent human life no matter how you look at it.

    October 24, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. Patrish

    This is exactly the reason I am so anti-religion. All groups twist religion it to suit their needs. If one is stupid enough to vote for these people you get exactly what you deserve – and someday you (women) may be at the receiving end of their extremism.

    October 24, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. dsangiovanni

    "..explaining that he would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger..." and isn't God will too?

    October 24, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. julie

    And of course he claims his words were twisted! (sure!) not much to twist, he said "God's will"
    But NOW...don't forget...Romney is ALL for women's rights! NOW he just agrees with ANYTHING!

    October 24, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. Hugh Jass

    Heck, when someone rapes your granny with a splintery broomhandle, that must be God's will too. I guess God's behind every molestation and butt burglary when you think about it. Maybe we should lock God up somewhere safe before He hurts more innocent people?

    October 24, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. TKVegas

    This is really no big surprise when you realize that us pro-life people believe EVERY pregnancy is Gods will. Disagree if you want but don't make this out to be a big scandal...

    October 24, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Smell This

    I am just so pleased that he has a direct line to god and can speak on god's behalf.

    October 24, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. JCMars

    Abortion. The primary sacrament of the atheist religion.

    October 24, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |

    This guy is a Republican
    Mitt Romney is a Republican
    Opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, is in the GOP platform
    If men could get pregnant abortion would be legal without question
    Abortion clinics would be on more corners than Starbucks
    Morning after pills would come in flavors like grape, ranch and nacho cheese
    this is such bs

    October 24, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Muhs

    The fact is this should always be the choice of the women or Girl. When the man can carry a baby then he can then make the decision. Until then Mr. Mourdock or any other man has no right to make this choice.

    October 24, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. realistichope

    Tagg Romney, the son of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has purchased electronic voting machines that will be used in the 2012 elections in Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington and Colorado.

    "Late last month, Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis at FreePress.org broke the story of the Mitt Romney/Bain Capital investment team involved in H.I.G. Capital which, in July of 2011, completed a "strategic investment" to take over a fair share of the Austin-based e-voting machine company Hart Intercivic," according to independent journalist Brad Friedman.

    But Friedman is not the only one to discover the connection between the Romney family, Bain Capital, and ownership of voting machines.

    October 24, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Kafka999

    Keep your religious beliefs at home, Mourdock. It's very disappointing that this great country is going the wrong direction and most GOP's have become more and more narrow-minded. YOU DON'T MAKE DECISIONS FOR WOMEN.

    October 24, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Samn

    Again. So under a republican administration, rapists also can have babies. Wow, what an ideology. I thought Taliban was bad. And we the American people elect this kind of believers to the congress. That tells a lot about the state of our union. Its value system is screwed up. If our founding fathers were alive, they will weep regretting not have more in the consitution to save this great country from people like this.

    October 24, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. ajd

    If the government FORCES a woman to keep a baby and jprevents her from getting an abortion, then the government should also give that woman $250,000-500,000 to raise that baby!

    October 24, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Rynomite

    At least the guy is consistent in his beliefs.

    I mean if your going to believe in supernatural voodoo and an omnipotent all powerful god then his statement logically follows.

    Of course if you believe in any of that stuff then you have logic issues to begin with...

    October 24, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. Steve

    I think Hoosiers may now regret the decision to fire Senator Lugar.

    October 24, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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