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. Lisa P

    Politicians and religious zealots (i.e., bullies) should have nothing to say about a decision made between a woman, her conscience and her doctor. Nothing. Period.

    October 24, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. skarphace

    Anne: I could agree [abortion being allowed in the cases of] rape, therapeutical, or if the life of the mom is on risk."

    Then you should not be voting Republican, because their agenda is to make abortion illegal in all cases including these.

    October 24, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. Freddie the Fez

    If pregnancy resulting from rape is God's will and intent, then the rape has to be God's plan for getting a girl pregnant. Therefore, Christians should press for the legalization of rape as fulfilling God's plan. It should be perfectly legitimate. Not getting pregnant, particularly marriages between a man and a woman without children (shudder) should be ILLEGAL and declared null and void. The men who fail to carry out God's word should be punished. #republicanlogic

    October 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Jon

    A god who supposedly impregnated a girl 2000 years ago might very well condone rape. So does that mean everyone who votes to make rape a crime is going to hell?

    October 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. pcappit

    A draconian comment from someone who is not smart enough to leave idiotic beliefs out of the public arena. As a lifelong Conservative and Social Libertarian it is dopes like this guy and Akin that cause more harm to the GOP then the left ever could.

    October 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. chilly g

    my fellow americans, in missouri and indiana please do not send theses guys to the senate, they are full of hate toward peoples who disagree with thems and they will only work with the other if they agree with them 100 percent but in
    a democriticy in order to get things done you have to work together and they has to be comprise and these two
    canadite will not comprise and will not be effected.

    October 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Observer

    @JCMars: This is too sweet to let go by:
    "JCMars: .... 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."...
    What what, what? Did the democrats make this guy say idiotic stuff? The great commie/democrat conspiracy?

    Or was it god's will that this childless "struggling" confused man says utterly insulting brainless nonsense. Well, I bow my head if it was god's will to expose this empty skull. Or should I say "hearless gnome"?

    October 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Harvey

    I lean very much to the right and I will be the first to say this guy is full of it. He would never get my vote.

    October 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. rmc

    So Republicans believe that rapists are carrying out the will of God?

    October 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Mary

    So a woman is raped against God's will but must give birth because life is created by God's will. Now... what is God's will after that? Who is to support the woman and her child? The woman should have counseling, continue her education and employment... is it God's will that society must help provide her and her child with child care, education, food, health care, housing... I'm not sure where it ends. The rapists life was apparently created by God's will and he will be provided with food, housing, health care while he is in prison... if he's imprisoned... what is God's will in regards to the person that created the life in God's will but through an act that was not in God's will? Questions upon questions.

    October 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. Ran

    If rape is god's will — God is evil.

    October 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. Paul

    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."

    good thing we only have 2 parties on this country and not a third party that generally agrees with your views *coughlibertariancough*

    October 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  13. Freddie the Fez

    Why has the Republican party, the party of fiscal moderation, become hijacked by lunatics like Murdock and Akin? Republicans are a laughing stock, and the only thing they have left is to call Obama a liberal and a socialist, and hope that by saying it often enough, people will think it is true. It is becoming harder and harder for me to justify voting Republican.

    October 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |

    What the guy meant to say was that life is a good thing and created by God. Rape is a crime and not punished strongly enough in our country for sure. The little baby forming can have a bright and prosperous future. As a new individual, it shouldn't be subjected to having acid poured on it or it's limbs ripped off because it's biological father was a (expletive here). Murdock just didn't articulate what he meant very well. And then people are jumping on the Romney wagon saying things like "wow... this is the kind of guy that Romney endorses". Romney has said that they disagree with Murdock's views in this case.
    I married my wife 25 years ago and I fully endorse and support her but there have been many things over the last 25 years that we disagree on sharply, yet we remain married. Go figure. Isn't that how life works?

    October 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. rconatser1

    As a Hoosier, I'm sick of Romney ads all over our t.v. here talking about what a great human being Mourdock is. The GOP knows what these "Tea Partiers" are, but bend over backwards catering to them, which is what caused the gridlock to begin with. I wish they would release a compilation of Romney videos of what he's saying out in the field, compared to what he said in the debates. It's laughable what this clown will say to get elected.

    October 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  16. charles

    abortion is murder, I think who ever commits an abortion should be charged with murder and put in prison

    October 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. drdiane50

    To emm – Your assertion that the Democrats are worse – even worse than these chauvinistic old men with their neanderthal ideas about women's bodies and god's will – keep in mind that with the Repubs, you won't have any choice at all. At least the Dems will let YOU choose. These idiotic old men in the far right pf your party don't think you're capable of choosing, and even if you were, they wouldn't let you.

    October 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. BB

    Men needs to stay out of a women's business when it comes to what they should do and not do with their bodies. It is hard enpugh rasing children that you planned much raising children that was imposed upon you. Are you all being thoughful about what you are saying!!! Get off this topic and let it be. Do you think these babies remain babies forever!!! look at the crime rate around us and see. Men get out of women affairs and leave us alone!!!!!!!!

    October 24, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. MrApplesauce

    ...and people vote for this guy.

    October 24, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. John

    I am a bit confused. My friend chose to give her beautiful little girl life after she was raped. Are you liberals telling her that her daughter wasn't a gift from God? Are any children gifts from God in the liberal world?

    October 24, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. art

    Republicans often scare me!

    October 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. kbob365

    Poor Mr. Flip-flop Romney is in a pickle. It's too close to the election for him to denounce this nut job and then support him later, as he did with Akin. He can't hide the fact that he's a big supporter of Mourdock, and that Ryan gave money to Mourdock's campaign. He can't hide the fact that the GOP is the American Taliban, intent on stripping women's rights in the name of religion.

    October 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. Dino

    Correction of earlier post: If you can read between the lines you'll see that Republican politicians are consistent in their action of placing money before the environment and people.

    October 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. Dan

    Therefore, the rapist is only doing the Will of God. Sounds a lot like Muslims yelling, "Allah is Great", when they murder anyone. If these supreme beings are so supreme, why do they always need humans to do things for them? The likely explanation is that many are delusional.

    October 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. Mike H.

    "Pregnancies from rape God’s will".
    GOD should be prosecuted for rape in a court of law.

    October 24, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
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