Democratic Congressman Joe Donnelly and Republican State Treasurer Richard Mourdock squared off last night in New Albany, Indiana for their second and last debate before election day.
Mourdock stirred much reaction when the candidates were asked about their views on abortion. Both Mourdock and Donnelly said that their faith guided them on the issue and that they are both pro-life, but Mourdock went even further when pressed on exceptions.
"I struggled with it for a long time but I came to realize that life is that gift from God," the Indiana Republican said. "I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
Following the debate, Mourdock attempted to clarify his comments in a statement:
"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," stated Richard Mourdock.
Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney, recently cut a rare ad for the Indiana Republican endorsing his candidacy which begins airing this week in the Hoosier State.
Romney Spokesperson Andrea Saul released a statement last night after the controversy unfolded. "Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," she said.
Both men stuck to familiar and often repeated lines of attack on their opponent. Mourdock painted Donnelly as a status quo politician, a lackey of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, who compromised his principles in support of the President's healthcare law which Mourdock called the greatest intrusion on American liberty.
Donnelly casted Mourdock as a partisan extremist unwilling to compromise and work across the aisle if sent to Washington. Donnelly fashions himself as a bi-partisan moderate in the mold of Indiana's popular senior Senator Richard Lugar, whom Mourdock defeated last May. The two-term congressman frequently mentions Lugar's name and their work to save Indiana's auto industry. Donnelly mentioned Lugar five times in last night's final confrontation with Mourdock.
Mourdock criticized Democrat Donnelly for his party leadership votes, claiming he said he wouldn't vote for Pelosi for speaker before he ultimately did, and that he couldn't be trusted to vote against Harry Reid if elected to the U.S. Senate.
"I do think it's sad that for Richard Mourdock it's always about politics," Donnelly responded. "And this is after a year of knee capping Richard Lugar around the state at every chance you got," he continued.
Mourdock continued an aggressive assault on Donnelly's support for the Affordable Care Act and the HHS mandate regarding contraception, referring to the Congressman as the deciding vote and stealing $716 billion out of medicare to pay for the bill.
"Obamacare has caused an issue of religious freedom that goes against our basic faith and it's wrong," Mourdock said. "It was obamacare for which he cast the deciding vote that forced this issue to surface in the first place."
Mourdock, a graduate of Ball State University, said he was proud to stand at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend in support of their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a federal requirement that forces religious organizations to violate the teachings of the Catholic Church according to the Indiana Republican.
"As a Ball State guy I stood at Notre Dame against Obamacare," Mourdock boasted. "It's unfortunate that a guy from Notre Dame was not there to defend Notre Dame," he continued.
Donnelly touted his resume as a champion for moderate policies in the House and his votes against his own party in support of the Keystone Pipeline, a balanced budget amendment, and voting against cap and trade.
Tune into Hardball at 5 p.m. for a discussion on why Mourdock could hurt Mitt Romney.