WASHINGTON — This is starting to look like a Mourdocktober surprise for Democrats.
Indiana’s Tea Party Senate candidate, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, may have handed Democrats the last-minute, swing-state lift they needed with his stunning comments that pregnancies stemming from rape, however horrible, are “something that God intended to happen.”
Mourdock tried to soften his comments Wednesday, saying that he did not mean God intends for women to be violated — only that every life was a divine gift.
Nevertheless, the repercussions from his words quickly spread across the Hoosier State and the country, as both the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee seized on the remarks, and nearly every Republican in a close Senate race who responded to The Huffington Post denounced Mourdock’s comments.
Massachusetts’ Scott Brown was first, followed soon by Connecticut’s Linda McMahon, who said in a statement:
“Richard Mourdock’s comments were highly inappropriate and offensive. They do not reflect my beliefs as a woman or a pro-choice candidate.”
Even anti-abortion candidates sought distance from the intemperate Mourdock.
“Jeff Flake’s pro-life position has always included exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother, so he does not agree with some of the comments made by other candidates on this issue,” said Andrew Wilder, a spokesman for the Arizona congressman.
“Dean Heller disagrees. He does not share these views,” said Chandler Smith, a spokeswoman for the Nevada senator.
In Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson spokeswoman Lisa Boothe simply said, “No,” the former governor does not agree with Mourdock.
One Senate candidate who agrees with Mourdock’s opposition to abortion, Pennsylvania challenger Tom Smith, found the comments out of bounds. “Tom Smith condemns those remarks,” said spokesman Jim Conroy.
Some GOP candidates declined to respond, including North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg, Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg, and Virginia’s George Allen. All are on record opposing abortion in nearly every circumstance, as well as Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who also didn’t answer but was caught on video ducking the question.
For Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the timing of Mourdock’s surprise couldn’t be worse. The remarks came just a day after a Mourdock ad featuring Romney — the only one he has cut for a Senate candidate this election — began airing on TV.
Romney quickly moved to distance himself, although his campaign did not withdraw the endorsement and said it has not requested that the ad be taken off the air. “Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock, and Mr. Mourdock’s comments do not reflect Gov. Romney’s views.” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “We disagree on the policy regarding exceptions for rape and incest but still support him.”