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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

"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.

Also on the CNN Political Ticker

- GOP Senate candidate accuses Dems of distorting his rape comments

- Clint Eastwood returns, stars in new super PAC ad

- Obama ad uses ghost of recount past

- Romney campaign and allies far outspending Democrats

- Trump's new charity drive

- Obama ready for 'all-nighter'

Filed under: Indiana • Richard Mourdock • Senate
soundoff (2,701 Responses)
  1. MommaG

    Will the insanity never stop with this group. As an Independent I have never voted a straight party ticket before (my 8th presidential election). I’ve always prided myself in the fact that I’m intelligent enough to research the candidates and issues for myself and vote to the knowledge that my findings support my own core values.

    NOT THIS YEAR! I refuse to be a part of any of this. I left the republican party and the church years ago because of the slow creep toward the ridiculous in both. The slow creep has seemed to have accelerated to light speed. I’ll be voting straight demarcate this election.

    If my daughter or one of my granddaughters were to conceive a child due to rape I would move heaven and earth to give them the freedom to choose how best to handle the situation. If they decided to have the child and give it up for adoption, I’ll wish that baby a happy life with its new family. If they decided to have the child and keep it, I would love it without question. If they decided to have an abortion, I would drive them to the clinic and let them cry on my shoulder… By being raped a woman has already lost a measure of her own free will, I can’t imagine not being able to exercise the right to decide for myself how to address this horrid event.

    A note to republicans who claim to be Christians, you cannot legislate your personal morality on “We The People”. By claiming the name of Christ you have exercised first and for most your own free will, how can you fell you can take that same basic freedom from others?

    October 24, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Smeagel4T

    Just a reminder: It was a conservative Supreme Court that passed Roe v. Wade.

    October 24, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. Gordyb102

    This man is nuts.

    October 24, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. OhioDave

    So, let's see, Mitt Romney campaigned on behalf of Mourdock and even cut an ad stumping for him. Yet, now he wants to distance himself from the candidate as soon as the candidate shows his true colors???

    Wake Up, America! Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan (remember his words of "legitimate" rape?) and the Republican Party would love to take us back to the world of Ward and June Cleaver and the 1950s. No matter how much they try and snow people into thinking they're "moderates" or friends of women and women's rights. Will we ever learn?

    October 24, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. Mike

    At least now the 30,000+ pregnancies per year due to rapes in this Christian Nation..... we now know who to send the invoices to, right? That wizard guy in the sky can start paying prenatal expenses, doctor's bills, hospital bills & child support and share all the soccer mom duties for his spawn birthed by his will for rapists to impregnate.

    In 10, 9, 8, 7 we'll be seeing reality court TV show us the endless stream of women & children demanding god at the defense table start paying up for what he reaped since time began!

    October 24, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Billy in NYC

    Now we know why less and less people attend church every year because of the stupid comments from the GOPs interpreting GOD's intents. GOD has been dragged into the mud by GOP with distortions and lies for years .
    Maybe GOD should have an emergency press conference now to clear his positions on all social issues and tell us if Mormonism is approved by him and Jesus. Then my door bell might stop ringing by boys in white shirts with a book.

    October 24, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. mary

    Men who feel it is necessary to control a woman's choices about her body need to find another and different method of boosting their sagging egos.

    October 24, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. clarke

    Yes, and you having ED, is the will of God, so get rid of your meds and deal.

    October 24, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Jim

    The people who engineered this guy's candidacy to defeat Lugar in the primary have the candidate they deserve. Now voters will decide if he is the senator they deserve.

    October 24, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. BeatlesBiggerJesus

    Mitt still supports this religious fascist. Ryan agrees with everything he said.

    October 24, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. MAJ

    The US has its very own Taliban now. It's called the Republican Party. Time for Pres. Obama to issue an executive fatwa banning them from the public arena.

    October 24, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Jake

    Hi I'm Mitt Romney and I support Murderdick for the Senate. His views are the same as my views. With him in the Senate and Me in the WH, we will make sure our shared vision for America moves forward.

    I'm Mitt Romney and I approve of this message.

    October 24, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Dino

    It doesn't matter what Romney's stance is. He is a Republican and therefore endorses the Republican party with all their views. People who want their vote to count toward a win either have to vote Republican or Democrat. When Republicans claim victory, so do their bad seeds who are candidates now.

    If you can read between the lines you'll see that Republican politicians are consistent in their action of placing money and the environment before people. Romney does it too. Their politicians have no solid ground to stand on when speaking of God and religion. Their pro-life stance has always been a joke and a sort of twist in the plot in the end game of their agenda designed to keep their opponents from saying they only care about money.

    Conservatives are always the ones complaining about lazy welfare recipients getting handouts. They should be the first ones to support pro-choice and policies that control population so the government spending on these things would
    be reduced, yet another complaint of theirs.

    October 24, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Dan

    Has the whole GOP gone insane? By the way, I agree with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists . Politicians do need to keep out of the exam room.

    October 24, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. jon

    Mainstream religious people are also weird and believe in that phantom in the sky to run their lives. Get real folks.

    October 24, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |

    Give me a break.........
    GOP- In August, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, also running for Senate said:
    "Legitimate Rape" rarely resulted in pregnancy

    GOP -Tuesday Richard Mourdock, running for U.S. Senate in Indiana said.
    " I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I realized that life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen" .

    GOP- Next?...........................

    October 24, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. dave in dallas

    Indiana chose THIS guy over Senator Lugar in the primary? What could they possibly have been thinking?

    October 24, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. Both sides are full of it

    If you made a reference to a biblical passage in response to this GOP candidate, you're just as lost as he is. Congratulations on being a fool.

    October 24, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. Hoosier Mark

    As a native Hoosier, I'm relieved to know that this guy is a native Ohioan.

    And in November, let him say that his losing the upcoming election is God's will (not the will of the voters).

    October 24, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. YoozYerBrain

    @ 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."

    Here's the problem America, people like emm. She will vote to destroy America cuz she thinks her party is more important. She thinks Mourdock should distance himself from mainstream repubs? Deary, he IS mainstream repubs! You are all sickos who think your weird fantasies are more important than the great USA! And by the way, I noticed that your last president gave us the worst ter ror rist attack in our history, 2 unfinished wars, and wrecked the economy, but you wouldn't vote for a democrat? Yeah, yer a good American. How about holding the people responsible accountable? Hmm? As a conservative I think you are responsible for your actions and must bear the consequences and as an independant I know the consequences of their actions- ie disaster for the US- disqualifies them for my vote. WHAT the he ll is wrong with you? There's a difference between "conservative" and "fascist", and you my lady, are a goose-stepping fascist without an ounce of critical free-thinking. The Founding Fathers of the Enlightenment would be aghast!

    October 24, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. bob

    It should not be allowed for any politicians to even talk about religion. this guy just shot himself in the foot this like the same as standing up in front of everyone and saying I AM A MORON

    October 24, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  22. skarphace

    Any woman who votes for the GOP is voting against her own self interest. Any minority, any middle class, anybody who is unemployed, anybody who is retired, anybody who is disabled, anybody who is homeless, anybody who is an immigrant, anybody who needs health care, anybody who owns a small to mid-sized business, anybody who is lgbt, anybody who serves in our military, anybody not an Evangelical Christian, anybody who believes in science, the list could go on and on. All of these are voting against their own self interest when voting GOP and yet they still continue to vote GOP.

    I just don't understand it and probably never will.

    October 24, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. The Fed (as in fed up with stone age varmin)

    "explaining that he [Murdoch] would allow for exceptions to an abortion ban when a mother's life is in danger."
    But, but , but , that's AGainst god's will. If god allows the pregnancy after a rape, who is Murdoch to say that if the mother's life is in danger, abortion is ok. Oh the scoundrel. Turning against god's will. Who cares about the mother's life when the precious rape fetus wants to grow and come out? Folks, get a perspective here. Life is at stake.
    We don't need single mothers but we need ALL babies, futures voters for the teaparty and gop. ooops
    the goooops arr, i mean to say voters for the GOooopppss
    i cain't get the word out right , G OOoooo PPpssss

    October 24, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. Chris

    This is why I hate religion. It allows people to justify "beliefs". All people in power should be kicked out if they even utter the word god. Our country started out with separation of church and state, but during the 20th century religious folks in the US tailored laws to fit their religion. Now every time people try to fix the insanity...they cry persecution.

    October 24, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Emily

    I was raped repeatedly by my father between the ages of 13-18. After every time, I'd hold my breath and hope that I'd get my period. NO WOMAN should ever have to hold her breath and pray that she doesn't get pregnant. Rape is a soul-killing, horrific act that cannot be described with the adjectives we have. The experience of that helplessness, that guilt, that fear is something I'm still dealing with today, in the form of PTSD. Telling me that, if I had gotten pregnant, that the baby would have been a gift from God goes against everything I believe in. I'm still grappling with the feelings of how a loving God could allow this to happen, and I think having to have dealt with being pregnant with my father's child (and the decision to either keep or abort, which is a horrific decision in-and-of itself) would have shattered my faith completely.

    If you are a man (excepting those who have been raped themselves), you can NEVER EVER know what it's like to not only be raped, but to then hold your breath waiting to see if that violent act will create a child. NO ONE should try to hold the moral high ground and judge someone who has to deal with this horrible situation. Why don't they try to be more like Christ and be compassionate and attempt to understand it from the side of the victim?

    October 24, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109