Another GOP senate candidate’s controversial statements about rape have launched a flurry of statements, rebuttals, and tweets.
The statement from Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party backed candidate in Indiana, came during a debate on Tuesday night when he was asked about abortion:
“The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. 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 God intended to happen.”
The answer quickly gained traction on social media, as people on Twitter attacked it. Mourdock remained a trending topic through much of the morning.
After the debate, Mourdock tried to clarify his words, saying
“God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick.”
Just hours after Mourdock’s initial remarks, the Romney campaign distanced itself from the Indiana candidate
, with spokesperson Andrea Saul saying, “Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views.”
The timing couldn’t be worse if Romney hopes to put some space between
himself and Mourdock. On Monday, the Romney camp rolled out statewide
ads in Indiana endorsing the GOP senate candidate.
Mourdock’s opponent Joe Donnelly said little about the remarks during
the debate. The two men are locked in a tight race. However, Donnelly,
who opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the
mother’s life, weighed in after the debate.
“I don’t know any God who would ever intend something like that,” he said. “It is an unspeakable crime.”
Republicans have noted that Donnelly signed a bill in Congress last year
that would have cut federal funding for abortion services in the cases
of rape and incest. The bill also included language about “forcible
rape.” Donnelly claims he didn’t know that language was in the bill.
Other Republicans came out in support of Mourdock
. On Wednesday, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said:
“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. 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.”
Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to capitalize on Mourdock’s statements. In fact, it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Obama campaign—this morning, Reuters is reporting
on leaked emails that suggest President Obama knew just hours after the deadly attack in Benghazi that it was carried out by militants.
Barely before the debate ended, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz denounced the statement, and the Obama campaign quickly turned out an ad highlighting Gov. Romney’s support of the candidate
Tuesday night was not the first time in which a GOP senate candidate has forced the Romney campaign to act. In August, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) drew sharp criticism
for his remarks on rape, tilting the pivotal senate race in Missouri to Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.
FREE WEBINAR: 10 lessons for PR pros from the 2012 presidential campaign