At a debate on Tuesday night, the Republican candidate for Senate in Indiana argued that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen."
"I believe that life begins at conception," he said during a debate in New Albany, Indiana. "The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I've struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
At a post-debate conference, Mourdock did not back away from his statements:
Mourdock: What I said was, in answering a question from my position of faith, I said that I believe God creates life. I believe that is as wholly and fully as I can believe it. God creates life.Q: Even if that happens in a rape situation, you still believe that?Mourdock: That God creates life? Yeah, absolutely. God is the only one who can create life. Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think God ordained or preordained rape? No I don't believe that. Anyone that suggests that, that's a a sick and twisted, that's not even close to what.
"The president felt those comments were outrageous and demeaning to women," Jen Psaki, traveling press secretary for the Obama campaign, said Wednesday. "This is a reminder that a Republican Congress working with a Republican president Mitt Romney would [feel] that women should not be able to make choices about their own health care... This is an issue where Mitt Romney is starring in an ad for this senator (sic) and it is perplexing that he wouldn't demand to have that ad taken down."
Psaki is referring to Romney's participation in a recent pro-Mourdock ad.
[youtube:PVXKYw_r5ZY?rel=0]A statement by Romney campaign spokesperson Andrew Saul reads, "Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views."
The New York Times recently described the Indiana Senate race as "unexpectedly competitive," in large part because of Mourdock's status as a Tea Party-backed outsider. The Republican began the race as a primary challenger against six-term incumbent Senator Richard Lugar, who blasted what he saw as growing Republican extremism in his concession speech. Had Lugar remained the Republican choice in the race, he likely would have easily won a seventh term. Nonetheless, the Republican Party establishment has gotten in line behind Mourdock's candidacy. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came to a Mourdock fundraiser in Indianapolis Monday, and Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham campaigned for Mourdock last week. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte is due in the state Wednesday.
Mourdock joins the ranks of other Tea Party-backed Senate candidates whose far-right views and outsider status have given Democratic opponents a second lease on life. Another prominent example is Missouri's Todd Akin, who is trailing Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill after making a series of outlandish statements. The most famous of those statements was his now-infamous remark about "legitimate rape," though, more recently, he has also compared McCaskill to a "dog."
The latest Rasmussen poll shows Mourdock leading Democratic opponent Joe Donnelly by five points. Democratic groups have bought another $1.6 million of airtime for Donnelly ads this week.