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Sunday, Dec. 3
The Indiana Daily Student


National voices respond to Mourdock comment

Indiana Senate candidate and State Treasurer Richard Mourdock started a political firestorm Tuesday when he defended his stance on abortion.

“I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I came to believe that life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said in the second Indiana Senate Debate. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that’s something God intended to happen.”

Mourdock and his Democrat opponent, Joe Donnelly, are locked in a tight race that could determine which party gains a majority in the U.S. Senate. Since last night, elected officials, political action groups and national news media organizations have weighed in on his comments.

“I said life is precious,” Mourdock said in a Wednesday press conference, as reported by the Indianapolis Star. “I believe life is precious. I believe rape is a brutal act. It is something that I abhor. That anyone could come away with any meaning other than what I just said is regrettable, and for that I apologize.”

But by Wednesday, the liberal American Bridge 21st PAC had already produced an ad juxtaposing Mourdock’s comments with a recent taped endorsement by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

A Romney campaign spokeswoman told the Huffington Post that Romney disagrees with Mourdock on his policies toward rape and incest but still supports him.

In an email to the Obama for America list-serve, OFA Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter criticized Romney for not revoking his endorsement of Mourdock after Tuesday night’s claim.

“It’s a grim reminder of something he’s trying desperately to hide in the final weeks of this election: Romney has campaigned as a severe conservative, supports severely conservative candidates, and would be a severely conservative president — especially on issues important to women,” Cutter wrote in the email.

Those weighing in on the issue extend beyond Republican and Democratic camps.
“I think it puts the Romney campaign in an awkward position for a day or two,” IU Professor of Political Science Gerald Wright said.

Wright said a statement such as this, so late in the campaign, could detract from the message Romney’s campaign is trying to communicate, particularly because of the way it will likely play with female voters.

Like Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s comments about rape and abortion, Wright said, Mourdock’s defense of his position could be interpreted as telling women who have been raped that choices about their bodies are no longer their own.

Wright added that the statement will likely impact Indiana’s Senate race.

“I will be surprised if Mourdock’s able to recover from it,” Wright said. “Very surprised.”
Mourdock maintained throughout the campaign that he supported abortion only in cases where pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.

The stance is not new but puts him in a minority among pro-life candidates.

Opponent Donnelly’s stance includes exceptions for rape, incest and the mother’s life.

Donnelly attacked Mourdock’s statements after the debate.

“I think rape is a heinous and violent crime in every instance,” Donnelly said in a press release. “The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen — ever. What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, issued a statement in support of Mourdock.

“Richard and I, along with millions of Americans — including even Joe Donnelly — believe that life is a gift from God,” Cornyn said in a press release. “To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous.”

He went on to point out that Donnelly, too, is pro-life.

Libertarian opponent Andrew Horning supported Mourdock in a Facebook post and later press release, saying he’d known women who had abortions after being raped and heard stories of women who bore children after rape.

Horning said he’d only heard complaints from the group of women who had abortions.

“While I would not unconstitutionally craft federal policy in this matter, I do agree with Mr. Mourdock that, if you have any notion of a deity at all, then God’s Mercy could be seen in the birth of a child. No matter what else may have happened up to that point,” Horning said in his post.

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