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. jj

    Yet the neocons support capital punishment.

    October 24, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. g

    don,t let your young female family members any near this guy–Gods will could kick in anytime

    October 24, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. Andrew

    Hmmmm held down against your will to commit an act of unspeakable nature. Really, God would wish that on someone, not the God I know.

    October 24, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. Raman

    If rape is God's will, why not abortion?
    Using God's name with political motivations is unethical. These politicians should focus on something important rather than fiddling with peoples lives and propagating half baked misconceptions.

    October 24, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. IndeePendant

    Murdoch and Romney are men. They have no clue about the what a women goes thru with her body and mind. Can they both please take their hands and minds off women and her body parts?

    October 24, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. IronMike

    The main question is why does God allow rape to happen at all? If it is the devil who does these evil things then why does God pile on by making the victim pregnant? Does God enjoy making the woman more miserable than she already is?

    October 24, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. Bones

    Richard Mourdock should join the Taliban, since he believes in the same kind of God. I don't see much difference between them and a lot of these domestic crazies when it comes to theology. It makes me wonder how much time these bible thumpers have actually spent trying to learn anything from Jesus. If people like this are put in office, we are in serious trouble.

    October 24, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Jack

    Mr. Mourdock,

    You are probably one of the main reasons this conservative hopes that you get beat this and I voted for the majority of the democracts including President Obama.

    I could go on about your simplistic view, but it is not worth my time or effort. Just know I used to be a Republican, but will be an Independent from now on.

    October 24, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. IronMike

    The main question is why does God allow r@.p.e to happen at all? If it is the devil who does these evil things then why does God pile on by making the victim pregnant? Does God enjoy making the woman more miserable than she already is?

    October 24, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Brad

    This is a no win situation for women if they decide to have the child then they are chastised by the republicans for having a single parent family or having a child out of wedlock.

    October 24, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. Rob

    Stunning........ just when I was thinking that our politicians could not get any dumber Mr. Mourdock proved me wrong

    October 24, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. jim

    Abortions are god's will because he gave us the technology to perform them. Murder is god's will because he gave us swords. Nuclear holocausts are god's will because he gave us uranium.

    October 24, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. Pam

    With prayer, maybe his wife will get raped, and then we can all cheer Hurray!!!

    October 24, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. Patrick Doyle

    I'm a little confused. Mr Mourdock is not in favor of abortion because he believes that it is killing a "person" yet he is on record supporting the death penalty? OK that makes sense. It's OK to kill the unpopular I guess. He and his kind should move to countries ending in -stan.

    October 24, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. topfuel500

    I see the GOP making a concerted effort to make God their divining rod in the political arena, I see them pushing hard this election and put caution to the wind. One has to wonder why when this really is not the opinion of the total, why are they fighting so hard to make us believe in their God? Why the big push....I have never seen such a disrespect for the Office of The President, even Nixon was treated with more respect. I just wonder what ever happened to the Grand Old Party, I am Democrat but have voted Republican when I thought the candidate would do a better job..what happened ?

    October 24, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. blake

    More far left propoganda from the good folks at CNN. Try news reporting for a change.

    October 24, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. Oh ho

    Gods will huh? Ok then, then we will just leave every child born out of rape on Murdock and Mitts doorstep as a gift from God, while we are at it let the rapist go free how can he be guilty when it was part of God's plan? What a bunch of whack jobs.

    October 24, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. JD

    If the rape is God's will, then has the rapist committed a sin? It's the classic free will v predestination quandry...if we don't have free will, if all our actions are preprogrammed to serve an omnipotent will, then where is sin? Sin assumes a choice. I'm kind of curious as to who would stand behind a declaration that rape is not a sin, because that's exactly what is unintentionally implied.

    The nature of an act is based on the act itself, not its outcome. Just because something considered good (a baby) comes from a horrible thing, does not justify the horrible thing.

    October 24, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  19. gregory

    according to this logic then EVERYTHING that happens is god's WILL. child molestation Murder anything and everything is god's will.

    October 24, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. julie

    I will not assume all men are like Murdoch and Romney BECAUSE I know, for a fact, there are good men out there!

    October 24, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  21. SuZieCoyote

    @sly You are really paranoid. Nobody is telling you that you cannot hold and practice your beliefs. No Christion is forced to get an abortion. It is YOU telling others how they must live and seeking to take religious freedom from others. Not the other way around.. Your theology values a handful of cells over a woman's life. It is quite simple. It is a woman-hating theology (always has been.)

    October 24, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  22. claybigsby

    "I happen to agree with the republican here. I know it may sound cruel to say that God wants a woman raped but if there is a God and he is omnipotent wouldn't that have to be the case? However I don't agree that life begins at conception. It begins at birth, that's what birth means; the beginning of life. Saying God doesn't want abortion is mans word not necessarily God's. Everything is God's will even if its not clear why."

    I hope you realize that gods word and mans word are the same as Man created god.

    October 24, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. shawn

    Wow it's sad there are deranged people in this country that actually agree with him.

    October 24, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. TparTpatriot

    The Lord has infinite wisdom and even things that don't make sense to us make sense to Him. One of these rape babies might even cure cancer or bring our nation to God, who knows?

    October 24, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. Mike

    If just every thing is some god's will & wizardry, why aren't the same GOPers & Christians who [sinfully] speak for their god.... are not insisting all crimes, no matter how heinous, are their god's gift giving plan giving victims to the criminals?

    October 24, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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