Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock, seeking election to the U.S. Senate, sparked controversy over rape and abortion, prompting Mitt Romney to distance himself.
Mourdock, locked in a battle with Democrat Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning, responded to a question about abortion during a debate Tuesday, saying he believed, "Life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen," the Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday.
His comments drew immediate reaction on online social media, with some posters saying his remarks should disqualify him from the Senate race, the Star said.
Romney's campaign also weighed in, with the Republican presidential candidate's spokeswoman saying, "Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views."
President Obama's campaign said Mourdock's remarks reflected "a GOP that is way out of mainstream."
Mourdock later tried to clarify his comments, saying it was "sick" and "bizarre" that anyone would conclude he was saying God had intended the rape, the Star said.
"What I said is God creates life. As a person of faith I believe that," he said. "Does God want people raped? Of course not."
Mourdock, who ousted long-time Sen. Richard Lugar in Indiana's GOP primary, is running an ad on Indiana television in which Romney endorses him, Politico reported.
Democrats have criticized the Mourdock comments and have linked them to the "legitimate tape" comments from Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican trying to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill. Akin's campaign was dealt a blow in August when he said rape victims have a biological ability to avoid pregnancy.
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