Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s comments on rape, conception and God’s will went viral within hours of him uttering them at the Indiana Senate debate Tuesday, immediately pushing the abortion issue back into the presidential race.
Democrats called on Mitt Romney to denounce Mourdock’s comments and request that Mourdock take down the ads featuring Romney which are currently running statewide in Indiana. Romney didn’t comment on the ads, but denounced Mourdock’s views.
“I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said at the debate, explaining his position that women who are raped should not have the right to an abortion. “And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
The line immediately blew up the Indiana race, which polls show is a virtual dead heat. But it quickly expanded onto the national stage as well, helped along by an unfortunate bit of timing for Romney: on Monday, he began appearing in a statewide ad for Mourdock giving the Republican his full-throated endorsement:
Democrats said the ad tied Romney to Mourdock and called on him to have it taken down.
“As Mourdock’s most prominent booster and the star of Mourdock’s current campaign ads, Mitt Romney should immediately denounce these comments and request that the ad featuring him speaking directly to camera on Mourdock’s behalf be taken off the air,” DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.
As for Mourdock, Wasserman Schultz said the comments about rape and God’s will were “part and parcel of the modern Republican Party’s platform toward women’s health.” In reality, although many Republicans agree with Mourdock that rape victims should not be allowed legal abortions, Mourdock’s claim on the debate stage that rape pregnancies are ordained by God is far outside the GOP mainstream. Nevertheless, Mourdock’s words threaten to put abortion rights and women’s healthcare back into the presidential campaign spotlight with two weeks to go before Election Day.
Romney is among the Republicans who believe women have the right to an abortion in the case of rape (as well as incest and when the mother’s health is at stake.) His campaign did not respond to questions about the Mourdock ad from TPM, but released a statement distancing him from Mourdock’s views.
“Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views,” campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul said.