INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock apologized that his comments regarding rape and abortion were "misinterpreted" and stood by his position that abortion should not be legal in the case of rape.
In a hastily called news conference late Wednesday morning, Mourdock tried to deflect criticism over a comment he made during a Tuesday night debate with Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly .
In the debate, Mourdock said, "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
"Anyone who views that understands fully what I meant. I really believe that," Mourdock said Wednesday. "I don't think God wants rape. Rape is evil. I abhor it, and I'm confident God abhors it. I apologize if anyone gets that interpretation from that unfortunate use of words."
Mourdock attacked Donnelly and Democrats who he thinks have seized upon what he called a "poor choice of words."
"That's the cheapest kind of political thing you can have out there. That's very troubling to me," Mourdock said. "I've seen Mr. Donnelly already twist this to say that (I said) God condones rape."
While he apologized for how some interpreted his comments, Mourdock was steadfast in his position.
"I believe God controls the universe. I don't think biology works simply in an uncontrolled fashion," Mourdock said. "For speaking from my heart … I cannot apologize. I would be less than faithful to my faith."
In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Donnelly said Mourdock's comments were, "hurtful and insulting to women."
"I am pro-life, but this controversy is not about pro-life," Donnelly said. "The people of Indiana expect their office holders to be reflective of them, and I think for someone running for the U.S. senate to have said this, it is hurtful for women, to survivors of rape and their families."
Donnelly also said he thinks it's legitimate for voters to expect that candidates for public office would not take such positions.
While political analysts view Mourdock's comment as a major gaffe in a campaign important to the balance of power in the Senate, the candidate said he believes it will propel his campaign.
"I think we're going to win this race. I think this issue serves to energize those who support me," Mourdock said.