INDIANAPOLIS - GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock stirred a hornet's nest Tuesday night with his comment during a debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly that when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape, "that's something God intended."
Reaction on Facebook and Twitter was swift and harsh, and Democrats seized upon the comment immediately after the debate, calling it "outrageous and demeaning to women."
Mourdock later clarified his remark, explaining that he did not believe God intended the rape, but that God is the only one who can create life.
The Mourdock/Donnelly race is critically important to both parties in their quest to control the Senate chamber. What was once considered by most observers a lock for Republicans is now shaping up to be a close race, and both sides have poured money into campaign commercials in the weeks leading up to the election.
Many commenters on the RTV6 Facebook page were taken aback by the comment.
"Every time this man opens his mouth, something stupid comes out," said commenter Pat Herron. "He just doesn't get it."
"To take away a woman's right to choose what happens to her body after a strange man has taken away the woman's right to choose what happens to her body is just as bad as the act itself," commented Jenn Burns.
Others said that while Mourdock's comment may not have been delivered eloquently, they support the basic premise.
"I don't think he meant it in a bad way. He just wanted to say that even babies conceived in the worst of conditions have a God-given purpose and deserve a chance," said commenter Kimberly Cruz. "He just didn't deliver his message eloquently enough. I forgive him."
"It was obvious what he meant. Rape is not an automatic reason for abortion of a viable pregnancy. Donnelly knows that," said commenter Nancy Harbaugh. "Another reason to vote Mourdock -- he was honest about how he stands."
After the debate, Mourdock was a trending topic on Twitter as word of the comment spread.