INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock
said Wednesday that he is standing by his statement that when a woman
becomes pregnant during a rape “that’s something God intended.” He says some
people have twisted the meaning of his comment.
Mourdock said in a news conference that he abhors any sexual violence and
regrets it if his comment during a debate Tuesday night left another
impression. He said he firmly believes all life is precious and that he
abhors violence of any kind.
"If they came away with any impression other than that I truly regret it. I
apologize if they came away. I’ve certainly been humbled by the fact that so
many people think that somehow was an interpretation,” Mourdock said.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans have distanced
themselves from Mourdock’s stance.
Mourdock, who has been locked in one of the country’s most expensive and
closely watched Senate races, was asked during the final minutes of a debate
Tuesday night whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life
is that 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,”
Mourdock maintained at the news conference that he was misunderstood.
“I think that God can see beauty in every life,” Mourdock said. “Certainly,
I did not intend to suggest that God wants rape, that God pushes people to
rape, that God wants to support or condone evil in any way.”
Mourdock became the second GOP Senate candidate to find himself on the
defensive over comments about rape and pregnancy. Missouri Senate candidate
Rep. Todd Akin said in August that women’s bodies have ways of preventing
pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.” Since his comment,
Akin has repeatedly apologized but has refused to leave his race despite
calls to do so by leaders of his own party, including GOP presidential
hopeful Mitt Romney.
New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte cancelled her plan to campaign
Wednesday with Mourock. Ayotte’s spokesman, Jeff Grappone, said that the
senator disagrees with Mourdock’s comments, which do not represent her
Other Republicans were split on their reaction to Mourdock Wednesday
Indiana gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence, who has been a leading social
conservative in Congress, said Mourdock should apologize for the comment. A
spokeswoman for Republican congressional candidate Susan Brooks, who is
running in a heavily GOP district in suburban Indianapolis, said she
disagreed with Mourdock.
But the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has invested heavily
in Mourdock and Indiana, said their candidates’ words were being twisted.
“Richard and I, along with millions of Americans - including even Joe
Donnelly - believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his
words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible
and ridiculous,” NRSC Chairman and Texas Sen. John Cornyn said in a
It was not immediately clear what effect Mourdock’s comments might have
during the final two weeks in the increasingly tight race against Democratic
Rep. Joe Donnelly. But they could prove problematic. Romney distanced
himself from Mourdock on Tuesday — a day after a television ad featuring the
former Massachusetts governor supporting the GOP Senate candidate began
airing in Indiana.
“Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not
reflect his views,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email to The
Associated Press. Romney aides would not say whether the ad would be pulled
and if the Republican presidential nominee would continue to support
Mourdock’s Senate bid.
National Democrats quickly picked up on Mourdock’s statement and used it as
an opportunity to paint him as an extreme candidate, calling him a tea party
“zealot.” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz described Mourdock’s
comments as “outrageous and demeaning to women” and called on Romney to take
his pro-Mourdock ad off the air.
Mourdock has consistently opposed abortion, with the exception of cases
where the mother’s life is in danger. His stark anti-abortion stance earned
him the endorsement of Indiana Right to Life in the Republican primary and
the general election.
In response, Donnelly said after the debate in southern Indiana that he
doesn’t believe “my God, or any God, would intend that to happen.”
Mourdock, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress three times before becoming
state treasurer, became one of the tea party’s biggest winners of the 2012
primary season when he knocked off veteran Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar in a
brutal campaign. Initially, national Republicans stayed out of the Indiana
race because the race had appeared to be a likely win for the GOP.
But as the race grew tighter in recent months, Mourdock changed his tune and
started trying to woo moderate voters. At the same time, top Republicans
began stumping for Mourdock around the state in a push to break open the
high-stakes Senate race. Republicans need to gain three seats, or four if
President Barack Obama wins re-election, and seats that were predicted to
remain or turn Republican have grown uncertain.
Donnelly, a moderate Democrat who opposes abortions, has spent much of his
campaign highlighting Mourdock’s tea party ties and trying to accuse him of
being too extreme even for conservative Indiana.