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. Vietvet

    If a rape is God's will then the rapist must go free. He did not have the necessary criminal intent to rape. He was only being used as an instrument of God according to Murdock. Or, in the alternative the rapist could plead that "The Devil made me do it."

    October 24, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Pamela

    II wonder how loud the pro-life argument would be if men were the ones getting pregnant?

    October 24, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. yeahalright

    Seriously, just stunning. Women, I don't know what else you need to hear. If you're still voting GOP...I feel bad for you.

    October 24, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Common Sense

    This man knows nothing of "God's Will." This country is becoming a very sad place..

    October 24, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. The Truth

    And this is why the Tea Party is a bunch of crazy folks who should not only not be in office but should not be allowed to have guns either. Come on America.. Wake up!! Stop putting these people in office.. They are crazy!

    October 24, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. Rob

    As I understand the GOP position: The government may not mandate purchase of insurance for health care, but can mandate when a woman may not have health care! Twisted logic! It is these types of statements that cause people to question religion. The separation of church and state is not only good for the state, but also good for religion. When religion is brought into the public sphere for purposes of establishing public policy, not only the policy, but also the religion becomes open for debate. The founding fathers understood this. The present GOP that extols the wisdom of the fathers does not.

    October 24, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. Mike

    Mitt just started airing commercials on defense of this right wing radical here in Indiana.

    October 24, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Syd

    So, getting pregnant from a vile rapist is "God's Will" but two boys kissing is an abomination. Hypocrisy is not a strong enough word.

    October 24, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. Erin S

    His viewpoint is based on the assumption that all citizens believe in god and that isn't the case. If an atheist is raped and wants to pursue an abortion, can they get a deferment on the basis of freedom of religion? Because his arguement against abortion only seems to apply to those who believe in god and, last time I checked, the government can't force us to believe in god.

    October 24, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. Normal Person

    This is nuts. Life is not a gift from God nor a miracle. It's a scientific process.

    October 24, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  11. Michael M

    We really need to fix our death sentence to people like this. No right to be breathing the same air as Americans. No right to even have been born No right for even a fair trial... Just 2 shots to the head end it.. I feel sorry for the other 999,999 sperm cells that didn't make it to your moms egg.

    October 24, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. Astounded

    For those championing God as the giver of life, what do you say with miscarriage? That he/she/it is a murderer? What about murder? God's fault? Disabled or retarded kids? God's prank? C'mon! The normal, mostly sane, religiouly inclined people need to shut this guy down, and come clean with the type of God that would be a decent moral guide for their lives

    October 24, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. d

    He says, " I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen" He is referring to his belief that the life begins at conception. He is is no way making a social commentary on rape. If you disagree with his belief about conception, then say so, but don't hide behind media spin which makes the guy look like he condones rape. Wow, you mean the liberal media has an agenda?
    communication = reading/hearing + UNDERSTANDING. I know sometimes that's hard to do...

    October 24, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    WOW, no wonder America is going down the drain so fast. With this kind of leadership it won't be long before our women are running around with veils over thier faces. What is really frustrating is all these people talking about what god wants or doesn't want; like they have some sort of special inside knowledge of gods wishes, LOL DARN FUNNY!!!!! Besides, this is something that should be between her and god and not the rest of the planet, beside I'm sure god doesn't need our help since after all he is the divine father. So if he has a problem with it I'm sure he will pass his judgement on her when her times comes. It is certainly not for some nut like this to insist he knows what god wants

    October 24, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. nickiead

    We need medical science to figure out a way to implant the rape fetus into the bodies of men who oppose abortion...see if their perspective changes.

    October 24, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. sunpacific

    I am at a loss as to what to write. This is the same type of narrow-minded, ignorant, reprehinsible drivel that far-right-wing-teapublicans keep putting out there. It is no different that Todd "legitimate rape" Aikin or VP nominee Payl Ryan who tried to sponsor a bill with Aikin stating that women could only get abortions during forced rapes. Wait, aren't all rapes forced? Isn't that the definition of rape? Now, they've gone a step further: it's all god's will. The rape was god's will then. A plane going down with innocent children on board is god's will. People flying planes into the WTC is god's will. Our republicans are beginning to sound like the very extremists and terrorists they purport to hate. Shame on you.

    October 24, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Mosesthejew

    Members of the Republician Party are making the TALIBAN look sane! Is this really the Party of Bob Dole, Ronald Ragan,
    Ike, and Honest Abe?

    October 24, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. Bodeli07

    I don't know How silly it is to think "It's all God's wish". Can we have open mind to think thru ? God has given all of us a "FREE WILL" and because of that we are all alive.. (or else we would all be puppets). ex. Will to do, Will to be grow, Will to become something, Will to play etc etc.... Do you think that the god is helping in these "Rapes" ??? (or in other words "It's god's wish?"). Good idea to look back and study these basic concepts once again.

    October 24, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  19. Drrr

    Protip: Christians claim God created life, but always seem to neglect the part where God also created death, such as every single occasion where they justify someone's passing as being 'God's will' as well. So if life is God's will, and all life, even life created through heinous and horrific crimes such as rape is sacred, and death is also God's will, then that by default means every death, no matter how heinous and horrific, is also God's sacred will at work. God did 9/11.

    October 24, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. Former Christian-Current Atheist

    That's religion for you.

    October 24, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. David in Houston

    Then we should not intervene in any way in any matter. If a thug pulls a gun on someone, then God might intend for him to pull the trigger. Trying to stop it from happening would be blocking God's will? This is a slippery slope!!!

    October 24, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. DW

    Welcome to the Dark Ages.

    October 24, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. MCR

    This is just a reminder that no matter who you are voting for for President, get these wacko GOP nutjobs away from Capitol Hill–vote for your Democratic Senatorial and Congressional candidates, all the way!

    October 24, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine


    The amount of hate for children and Christians from members of the so-called party of "diversity and inclusion" is amazing. The Democrats – goose-stepping to a rock beat.
    Ironic, coming from the party that has purged anyone who does not agree with out of the party. Donnelly is a pro-life candidate, does the GOP have any pro-choice people in its leadership?

    October 24, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  25. emm

    Being a woman who is a die-hard Republican for economic reasons, I think it's Republicans like this that need to quickly distance themselves from our party. These idiotic, chauvinistic, old men who make these rape comments DO NOT represent Republicans as a whole. I still will never EVER EVER vote Democratic, though. I believe that's WORSE.

    October 24, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
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