INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — If Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock was
feeling any heat for comments he made that a pregnancy resulting from rape
was something “that God intended,” it wasn’t at a Republican fundraiser
Wednesday night in the wealthy Indianapolis suburb of Carmel.
Mourdock smiled and laughed Wednesday night while working the room at a
private reception for Indiana Republicans, including Indiana’s Republican
secretary of state and attorney general, and several state lawmakers.
“It’s another day on the campaign trail. You have up days, you have down
days, but I’m really, really gratified with everything that’s been said to
me here tonight,” Mourdock told the Associated Press as he left the
reception and walked into the dinner.
Mourdock shared the stage at the fundraiser with gubernatorial candidate
Mike Pence, and Republican donors said his comments likely would fire up
Indiana’s base of anti-abortion voters. Staff for the Hamilton County
Republican Party, which hosted the Wednesday fundraiser, barred press from
Mourdock’s comments might not sink his campaign in Indiana, a state where
Democrats and Republicans alike campaign against abortion.
But with female voters critical in the presidential race and other tight
contests two weeks before Election Day, many Republicans distanced
themselves with varying levels of abruptness and clarity, underscoring the
difficult nature of the uproar even among other anti-abortion Republicans.
Indiana gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence sought an apology from Murdock.
Indiana House candidate Jackie Walorski, meanwhile, issued three statements
Wednesday: two disagreeing with Mourdock and one suggesting that Republicans
get back to talking about President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
That didn’t happen Wednesday as the issue ricocheted around the nation’s
political landscape, from the presidential contest on down.
Mourdock, meanwhile, dove into damage control Wednesday, saying that he
abhors violence of any kind and regrets that some may have misconstrued and
“twisted” his comments. But he stood behind the original remark in Tuesday
“I spoke from my heart. And speaking from my heart, speaking from the
deepest level of my faith, I would not apologize. I would be less than
faithful if I said anything other than life is precious, I believe it’s a
gift from God,” Mourdock said at a news conference Wednesday.
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s campaign quickly said he disagrees
with Mourdock’s initial remarks, but Romney did not cancel a television ad
in which he endorses the Senate candidate. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
canceled an event scheduled for Wednesday with Mourdock.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, told CNN that
his continued support of Mourdock “depends on what he does.”
McCain said he wants to see “if he apologizes and says he misspoke and he
was wrong and asks people to forgive him. It’s when you don’t own up to it
that people will not believe in you.”
Mourdock aides said the McCain spot was taped before Mourdock’s Wednesday
press conference. But Mourdock never apologized for those comments.
But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Sen. John Cornyn
issued statements of support, acutely aware that Mourdock’s fortunes in
Indiana could hold the key to winning control of the Senate. Republicans
must gain four seats if President Barack Obama is re-elected, three if
In Indiana, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Mourdock’s upset of veteran
Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in the May primary created an opening for
Democrats looking to fight for what would have otherwise been a safe GOP
seat. The surprisingly close race between Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly
has spurred national Republicans to send more money and national stars to
Indiana recently in an attempt to hold the seat.
Although Ayotte cancelled plans to headline a fundraiser for Mourdock in
Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Republican Women Club pushed on with the
fundraiser. Speaking inside the closed-door event, Indiana Republican Party
Chairman Eric Holcomb declined to comment on Mourdock’s explanation
Wednesday and said the loss of Ayotte from the trail Wednesday would not
slow their efforts to elect Mourdock. “I think we’re moving full steam
ahead,” he said.
So far, at least, Mourdock’s comment does not seem to be provoking as loud
an uproar as those from U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., this summer that a
woman’s body can prevent pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate
National Republican and conservative groups, including Crossroads GPS, the
National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Club for Growth, continued
their on-air assault against Donnelly. A Democratic source tracking ad buys
nationally said Wednesday there was no effort from Mourdock supporters to
pull out of the state, as there was in Missouri, following Akin’s comments.
Democrats capitalized on the remarks Wednesday, holding news calls and
conferences and airing Web ads tying Romney to Mourdock. Donnelly appeared
in downtown Indianapolis in front of the Julian Center, which counsels
victims of rape, sex trafficking and abuse.
“It is hurtful to women, to survivors of rape and to their families,”
Donnelly said. “His words were extreme, but more important, hurtful to
victims of sexual abuse.”
After riding the tea party wave to victory over Lugar, Mourdock had been
moving toward a less strident tone as he sought to refocus the race on
Donnelly’s support of the federal health care overhaul.
Throughout a political career that dates to the 1980s, Mourdock always has
opposed abortion except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk.
Donnelly opposes abortion but supports exceptions for rape, incest and the
life of the mother. However, the Democrat was among more than 200 lawmakers,
most of them Republicans, who backed legislation last year that would have
cut off federal aid for abortion services, even in cases of rape and incest.
A spokeswoman later said the congressman didn’t realize the bill would go
It was still unclear Wednesday whether Mourdock’s comments would hurt his
chances in Indiana, a state that has increasingly become dominated by social
conservatives in recent elections. A federal appeals court blocked the
Indiana General Assembly’s effort to defund Planned Parenthood on Tuesday
and state lawmakers will likely consider legislation next year to allow the
teaching of creationism.
Downtown Indianapolis workers taking their lunch break in the warm October
sunshine for the most part said they didn’t think Mourdock meant his remark
the way it sounded. Most said they hadn’t watched the debate but had heard
the buzz about what Mourdock said.
“It came across as, that’s God’s will for that woman to be raped,” said Judy
Stratom, a 50-year-old administrative worker. “I don’t think that’s what he
meant, but that’s the way the world took it.”
“I honestly don’t think he meant to say that rape was a gift from God,” said
office worker Saundra Taylor, 48, who was relaxing on a bench on the steps
of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. “I think he could have worded it