Indiana Senate Candidate Says Pregnancy From Rape 'Something God Intended'

[Update]: Richard Mourdock said during a Wednesday press conference that he stands by his remarks, but apologized if they were misinterpreted.

"The fact that I left any doubt as to what my meaning was, that I regret and apologize for, but I stand by my positions," he said.

"I abhor violence. I abhor any kind of sexual violence…and I am absolutely confident as I stand here that the God that I worship abhors sexual violence and abhors rape," he added.

Mourdock said he has not had any communication with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whose campaign says he does not agree with Mourdock's views on rape and abortion.

"I understand his position and I'm sure he understands mine," he said of the Republican presidential candidate.

Asked whether the comments hurt his chances of winning the Senate seat, Mourdock said no.

"I think we're going to win this race," he said.

Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock made controversial comments about rape and abortion Tuesday night, harkening back to remarks made by Todd Akin, the GOP's Senate nominee in Missouri.

Mourdock said during a debate on Tuesday evening that pregnancies resulting from rape are part of God's plan, adding that he only believes in abortion to save a mother's life.

"I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen," Mourdock said, near tears.

Mourdock's main challenger, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, is generally opposes abortion rights, but supports them in cases of rape and incest.

The comments come at a bad time for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is running neck-and-neck with President Obama with Election Day less than two weeks away.

Democrats have jumped on his recent endorsement of Mourdock.

"Richard will help stop the liberal Reid-Pelosi agenda. There's so much at stake. I hope you'll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate," Romney says in a recent television ad for the former Indiana state treasurer.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz released a statement criticizing the Republican party for outdated views.

"Richard Mourdock's rape comments are outrageous and demeaning to women. Unfortunately, they've become part and parcel of the modern Republican Party's platform toward women's health," Schultz said in the statement.

Obama strategist David Axelrod compared Mourdock to Akin in a tweet.

"Mitt's man Mourdock apes Akin, reflecting a GOP that is way out of mainstream," Axelrod tweeted.

Akin made a more stunning statement in August, when he said that women's bodies can prevent pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape." The Republican Party distanced themselves from Akin and many, including Romney, called for him to drop out of the race, but he refused to do so.

"As I said yesterday, Todd Akin's comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country," Romney's statement read. "Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race."

"I haven't done anything morally or ethically wrong. It does seem like a little bit of an overreaction," Akin told Mike Huckabee on his radio show in August.

The Romney camp distanced itself from Mourdock's comments but did not retract his endorsement.

"Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and the do not reflect his views," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said to ABC.

But National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn released a statement saying Mourdock's comments have been misconstrued.

"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. In fact, rather than condemning him for his position, as some in his party have when it's come to Republicans, I commend Congressman Donnelly for his support of life," he said.

Tea Party-backed Mourdock won the primary against longtime Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar. Donnelly, his challenger, has repeatedly highlighted his Tea Party ties and his extreme conservatism. The race is tight, and has garnered national attention. Republicans have made a big push to gain seats in the Senate, and while the Indiana race initially looked likely to fall Republican, it has grown closer in recent weeks.

Akin is also in a tight race for a U.S. Senate seat with Democrat Claire McCaskill. While both men have drawn the ire of Democrats and some Republicans,

Akin's assertion that women's bodies can reject pregnancy in instances of "legitimate rape" is blatantly false.

Mourdock's comments, while controversial and offensive to some, are somewhat less inflammatory. The timing is also different. Akin's comments came with enough time for him to withdraw and allow the Republican party to put in another, potentially viable candidate. Mourdock's remarks were less than two weeks before the election, meaning any call to withdraw would be futile.

This story was updated to reflect comments Mourdock made at a news conference.

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