Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock says he's sorry if people misunderstood what he meant when he said a rape pregnancy is a "gift from God." Mourdock held a press conference on Wednesday and choked up at times, saying, "If there was any interpretation other than what I intended, I really regret that." The Republican said he was "more humble person this morning because so many people mistook, twisted, came to misunderstand the point that I was trying to make" -- opposition to a rape exception in a hypothetical abortion ban. But! "For speaking from my heart, for speaking from the deepest level of my faith, I cannot apologize."
Democrats have been searching for another Republican "Akin moment" -- when Todd Akin set off the women's outrage machine by talking about "legitimate rape" and made it possible for his opponent, Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, to get reelected. But Democrats have had modest success. It didn't work when Linda McMahon said she supported religious hospitals' right to deny emergency contraception to rape victims. Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh didn't catch fire, either, when he said that "technology and science" meant there was no need for an exception to an abortion ban when the mother's life is threatened. Neither did Pennsylvania Senate candidate Tom Smith when he compared a rape pregnancy to having a child out of wedlock. All of these candidates were essentially rephrasing the Republican Party's official position on abortion -- it should be banned, no exceptions -- they just did so inelegantly. In fact, Mourdock appears to be more liberal than the party platform, because he supports abortion when the mother's life is at stake.
But Democrats seem to think in Mourdock, they have a real winner. Mitt Romney, who appears in an ad backing Mourdock, says that while he disagrees with Mourdock's statement, Romney still backs him. Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz demanded that Romney disavow Mourdock and ask that the Mourdock ad featuring Romney be taken down. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is tweeting photos of Paul Ryan's donation to Mourdock.
But Republicans are standing by their man. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he's standing by Mourdock. Sen John Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, put out a statement saying:
"Richard and I, along with millions of Americans – including even Joe Donnelly – believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous."
Which, of course, Democrats love. The DNC has already made a web ad asking why Romney won't ask for the ad to be taken down.