INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock attempted Wednesday to diffuse a national controversy over comments he made involving God, rape and abortion.
But during the meeting with reporters, the Republican struggled to clarify himself and apologized only for any misinterpretation of his words, not the actual statement.
"I said life is precious. I believe life is precious. I believe rape is a brutal act. It is something that I abhor," Mourdock said Wednesday. "And that anyone could come away with any meaning other than what I just said is regrettable, and for that I apologize."
In Tuesday night's debate, during a question about whether he supports abortion in the cases of rape, he said: "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."
On Wednesday, Mourdock said repeatedly he believes life is precious and rape is abhorrent. He did not intend to suggest God wants rape or condones evil in any way.
He noted that Democrats are twisting his words and said that is what's wrong with Washington, D.C., today.
"It is win at any cost," Mourdock said. "Let's make up issues when we can't find real ones."
When asked directly whether he believes that God intends pregnancies resulting from rape, he said, "That's a call above my pay grade."
Mourdock also later could not explain his belief that God controls the universe but isn't responsible for rape.
"That's a theological question," he said.
Meanwhile, Mourdock's Democratic opponent in the Nov. 6 election, 2nd District Rep. Joe Donnelly, spoke to reporters about Mourdock's debate remark before and after a Wednesday afternoon meeting of the Anthony Wayne Rotary Club at Don Hall's Guesthouse in Fort Wayne.
"I was stunned. ... I don't believe that his comments that pregnancies resulting from rape, God intended that to happen. That is not my God," said Donnelly, who opposes abortion rights.
"I think it was shocking, and I think it was insulting to women, to survivors of rape and to their families," he said.
As for Mourdock's claim that his words had been twisted after the fact, Donnelly said, "I think his words were very clear."
Asked why he responded to Mourdock's comment after Tuesday's debate rather than during it when he had the opportunity, Donnelly said: "I felt that was the appropriate time to respond to that. We had closing arguments coming up as well. I knew we were going to have a chance to talk to (media) after the debate, and I thought I'd talk further at that time."
Mourdock's comment on rape pregnancies did not come up during Donnelly's remarks to the Rotary Club or in questions by club members.
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