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. Name Karen Cruzen

    These men are either ignorant of the facts, lying, disrespectful of women, or cruel minded. They are to be disregarded.

    October 23, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  2. Diane Wheeler

    Why can' t these guys just stop talking? I think they must be trying to anger voters.

    October 23, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  3. AA

    No comment

    October 23, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  4. tuma

    Sure are some interesting views from the GOP contingency. Just give them a mic and watch them implode.

    October 23, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  5. NinjaGirl

    See? That's what he meant. Getting pregnant by way of rape and being forced to raise the baby YOURSELF in a country where Republicans are cutting health insurance assistance every chance they get is a BLESSING. God is all-powerful, and has a plan for us all. So God doesn't want you to get raped, God just made it a part of the plan for the universe. God has NO choice in what happens with the divine plan. God's mighty hands are tied. So even though God doesn't WANT you to get raped, it HAS to happen so that a baby can be born to YOU and not the thousands of couples out there who want a baby but can't have one for one reason or another. Lucky you!

    And you can bet that God's followers will be there to help you every step of the way. If you're forced to carry a baby you didn't want, because you were beaten to the ground and violated, you can be sure that the Republican party will come to your aid and help you buy EVERYTHING that baby they'll force you to have needs. What's that? You say you can't afford child care and you might lose your JOB(which covers those health benefits you're gonna need)? Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways. So just find a nice quiet spot, get on your knees, close your eyes, and whisper until everything is magically better for you.

    You would think that people who can manage to see the bright side of being forced to carry the baby of a RAPIST could find a way to see the bright side of things like RAISING TAXES that could pay for more COPS to catch the rapist or something. Or maybe you wouldn't think that...if you're a Republican. As for me, I'll just sit back and wonder if all the women who VOTE for these Republicans do so because they want to, or because the compassionate men around them have found some way to "suggest" that they should.

    October 23, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  6. PinkPrincess

    Nothing to say except......what an idiot!

    October 23, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  7. tij


    October 23, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  8. Mike

    Is this for real? The GOP don't really believe this do they? Thankfully President Obama is going to win this election.

    October 23, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  9. Midwesterner

    *sputters* So ladies, lay back and just take it.... you're doing god's work.

    October 23, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  10. DCPam

    Really? God's will? What a pig.

    October 23, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  11. Dave

    I am sure that if Mourdock was a woman he would also feel the same way because he obviously is qualified to speak for women and their feelings. To say rape is God's will is incredibly narrow-minded and unfeeling for anyone who has experienced it. He does not deserve to serve in any elected office, not even as a dog catcher.

    October 23, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  12. Name

    Wow! An idiot finally willing to say what is logically consistent, but totally unacceptable by modern American values. Scary to think Mr Mourdock and his ilk may be responsible for the future of my nieces. I'm really taken aback by the hard right positions of these modern day GOP congressional candidates. Perhaps American society (or at least a signif portion of it) has reached a plateau regarding women's rights and emotions.

    October 23, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  13. Ken

    OMG!!! Can these guys be any more insensitive to women??????

    October 23, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  14. Siestasis

    Oh, and now we have Walsh saying the life of the mother is not a good reason for an abortion Can the GOP become any more anti women.. Isn't Walsh the guy that owes over 50,000 in back child support. Typical, have the kids but don't support them. The tea party is going to be the death of the GOP.

    October 23, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  15. CarmenSo

    Why does the GOP keep shooting themselves in the foot?

    October 23, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  16. EveT

    What kind of Christian does this candidate consider himself to be? This is so sick, it's beyond belief. The only comment that comes to mind is the famous rebuke to Sen. Joe McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?"

    October 23, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. Kate

    another horrific statement by repus

    October 23, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  18. zach

    I would love to show the god's will to his wife and daughters at once. As long as they are over 18, its not like i'm catholic.

    October 23, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  19. Kevin

    Makes me sick to my stomach.

    October 23, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  20. james gordon

    If you are a women , and you are voting republican .What are you thinking ? Are you as deceived as these godless men ?

    October 23, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  21. Observer

    That lack of logic is typical of many Republican males who are clueless to empathy for women.

    October 23, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  22. Mr X

    And when someone breaks your face with a brick and murders your family, that is also God's will, I guess.

    October 23, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  23. Manofcolor

    It just keeps getting better. Where do they find these people?

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    THIS IS THE MOST DISGUSTING THING I HAVE EVER READ... NEVER in my life have I wanted a Democrat to win more than now.

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  25. Jay

    I'm more and more convinced there's just something wrong with most Republicans....

    October 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
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