See Late Update below: McCain walks back Mourdock criticism
President Obama weighed in Wednesday night on the controversy involving Richard Mourdock’s recent remarks on rape, as John McCain withdrew his endorsement of the Indiana Senate candidate—upping the pressure on Mitt Romney to do the same.
“Let me make a very simple proposition: Rape is rape. It is a crime,” Obama told Jay Leno during a taping of The Tonight Show. “These various distinctions about rape don’t make very much sense to me.”
Obama continued the theme on the campaign trail Thursday morning, telling a crowd in Tampa, Fla.: “As we saw again this week, I don’t think any politician in Washington, most of whom are male, should be making health care decisions for women.”
Mourdock, a Republican, declared at a debate Tuesday he opposes allowing abortions for pregnancies conceived after rape because “it is something that God intended to happen.”
Meanwhile, McCain on Wednesday night told CNN he’s withdrawing his endorsement of Mourdock until he apologizes for the comments.
Those straightforward denunciations contrast with the response from Mitt Romney, who has distanced himself from Mourdock’s comments, but stopped short of withdrawing support for his candidacy. The Romney campaign issued a statement on Wednesday saying: “We disagree on the policy regarding exceptions for rape and incest but still support him.”
Romney appeared in an ad for Mourdock, which is still airing in Indiana. Democrats have called on Romney to tell Mourdock to take the ad down.
During his appearance with Leno, Obama urged voters to consider women’s health care being controlled by Republican leadership. “You’ve got a Supreme Court with Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance,” he said. ”I think it’s really important for us to understand women are capable of making these decisions. And these are not just women’s issues, these are family issues, because women are bringing in half the income.”
Late Update, 10/25 11:25am: McCain has now walked back his criticism of Mourdock. In a statement, an aide offered the explanation that McCain had commented before seeing Mourdock’s Wednesday press conference in which he “clarified” his position.