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Mourdock keeps up fundraising after uproar over remark

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If Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock was feeling any heat for the high-profile comments he made about pregnancy, rape and abortion, it wasn't at a Republican fundraiser Wednesday night in the wealthy Indianapolis suburb of Carmel.

“I believe that life begins at conception,” said Mourdock, the state’s treasurer, at Tuesday night's debate. “The only exception I have for—to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother [being at risk]. I’ve 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.”

Mourdock smiled and laughed Wednesday night while working the room at a private reception for Indiana Republicans, including Indiana's Republican secretary of state and attorney general, and several state lawmakers.

"It's another day on the campaign trail. You have up days, you have down days, but I'm really, really gratified with everything that's been said to me here tonight," Mourdock told the Associated Press as he left the reception and walked into the dinner.

Mourdock shared the stage at the fundraiser with gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence, and Republican donors said his comments likely would fire up Indiana's base of anti-abortion voters. Staff for the Hamilton County Republican Party, which hosted the Wednesday fundraiser, barred press from the dinner.

Mourdock's comments might not sink his campaign in Indiana, a state where Democrats and Republicans alike campaign against abortion.

But with female voters critical in the presidential race and other tight contests two weeks before Election Day, many in Republicans distanced themselves with varying levels of abruptness and clarity, underscoring the difficult nature of the uproar even among other anti-abortion Republicans.

Indiana gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence sought an apology from Murdock. Indiana House candidate Jackie Walorski, meanwhile, issued three statements Wednesday: two disagreeing with Mourdock and one suggesting that Republicans get back to talking about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

That didn't happen Wednesday as the issue ricocheted around the nation's political landscape, from the presidential contest on down.

Mourdock, meanwhile, dove into damage control Wednesday, saying that he abhors violence of any kind and regrets that some may have misconstrued and "twisted" his comments. But he stood behind the original remark in Tuesday night's debate.

"I spoke from my heart. And speaking from my heart, speaking from the deepest level of my faith, I would not apologize. I would be less than faithful if I said anything other than life is precious, I believe it's a gift from God," Mourdock said at a news conference Wednesday.

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign quickly said he disagrees with Mourdock's initial remarks, but Romney did not cancel a television ad in which he endorses the Senate candidate. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte canceled an event scheduled for Wednesday with Mourdock.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, told CNN that his continued support of Mourdock "depends on what he does."

McCain said he wants to see "if he apologizes and says he misspoke and he was wrong and asks people to forgive him. It's when you don't own up to it that people will not believe in you."

Mourdock aides said the McCain spot was taped before Mourdock's Wednesday press conference. But Mourdock never apologized for those comments.

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Sen. John Cornyn issued statements of support, acutely aware that Mourdock's fortunes in Indiana could hold the key to winning control of the Senate. Republicans must gain four seats if President Barack Obama is re-elected, three if Romney prevails.

In Indiana, it wasn't supposed to be this way. Mourdock's upset of veteran Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in the May primary created an opening for Democrats looking to fight for what would have otherwise been a safe GOP seat. The surprisingly close race between Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly has spurred national Republicans to send more money and national stars to Indiana recently in an attempt to hold the seat.

Although Ayotte cancelled plans to headline a fundraiser for Mourdock in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Republican Women Club pushed on with the fundraiser. Speaking inside the closed-door event, Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb declined to comment on Mourdock's explanation Wednesday and said the loss of Ayotte from the trail Wednesday would not slow their efforts to elect Mourdock.

"I think we're moving full steam ahead," he said.

So far, at least, Mourdock's comment does not seem to be provoking as loud an uproar as those from U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., this summer that a woman's body can prevent pregnancy in cases of what he called "legitimate rape."

National Republican and conservative groups, including Crossroads GPS, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Club for Growth, continued their on-air assault against Donnelly. A Democratic source tracking ad buys nationally said Wednesday there was no effort from Mourdock supporters to pull out of the state, as there was in Missouri, following Akin's comments.

Democrats capitalized on the remarks Wednesday, holding news calls and conferences and airing Web ads tying Romney to Mourdock. Donnelly appeared in downtown Indianapolis in front of the Julian Center, which counsels victims of rape, sex trafficking and abuse.

"It is hurtful to women, to survivors of rape and to their families," Donnelly said. "His words were extreme, but more important, hurtful to victims of sexual abuse."

After riding the tea party wave to victory over Lugar, Mourdock had been moving toward a less strident tone as he sought to refocus the race on Donnelly's support of the federal health care overhaul.

Throughout a political career that dates to the 1980s, Mourdock always has opposed abortion except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk.

Donnelly opposes abortion but supports exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. However, the Democrat was among more than 200 lawmakers, most of them Republicans, who backed legislation last year that would have cut off federal aid for abortion services, even in cases of rape and incest. A spokeswoman later said the congressman didn't realize the bill would go that far.

It was still unclear Wednesday whether Mourdock's comments would hurt his chances in Indiana, a state that has increasingly become dominated by social conservatives in recent elections. A federal appeals court blocked the Indiana General Assembly's effort to defund Planned Parenthood on Tuesday and state lawmakers will likely consider legislation next year to allow the teaching of creationism.

Downtown Indianapolis workers taking their lunch break in the warm October sunshine for the most part said they didn't think Mourdock meant his remark the way it sounded. Most said they hadn't watched the debate but had heard the buzz about what Mourdock said.

"It came across as, that's God's will for that woman to be raped," said Judy Stratom, a 50-year-old administrative worker. "I don't think that's what he meant, but that's the way the world took it."

"I honestly don't think he meant to say that rape was a gift from God," said office worker Saundra Taylor, 48, who was relaxing on a bench on the steps of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. "I think he could have worded it better."

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  • Mourdock
    What? Romney didn't intend to say what he said? Lol and im not intending to say this. Mourdock, Romney should never i do mean never be in any kind of office where they are making decisions for Americans. This election has been one of the funniest elections in history. These two have Brains the size of a pea. If you listen to Romney talk well try to listen, he is so stupid in the things he says nothing makes sense. Overtime he speaks he need to retract his thoughts. What is he going to do when he decides to pull the trigger on the "bomb" and then retracts. I for one do not want him to make decisions for me nor do i want Mourdock speaking for me. I want someone no matter if he or she is a Demand or Republican that is alot smarter then these two guys and don't say things that upset 99% of the population. As for BoA, goodbye... It's time to close your doors remove your name and give people back their money you took from them.
  • Remember the Good Old Days
    Close your eyes and remember your US Senator has been a visionary, Rhodes Scholar, 2 time Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Wise Man of the Senate, Greatest Elected Official in Indiana History, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Do you really want to replace him with Mourdock who is already an embarrassment to the State?
  • Idiot
    Look, I am a Republican through and through but Mourdock is clearly an idiot. I was hoping to pull one big lever on election day but now I may have to pull several small levers. The worst part is that he has dragged Romney into this whole thing with his stupid comment. Romney needs to distance himself from Mourdock and ask him to stop running the support ad tht is now airing, if he hasn't already. Is it too late to get Lugar back?
    • Would never need to say Dumbocrats!
      Two more awesome gems from Pelosi; “First Bush cut taxes for the rich and the economy has rebounded with new record low unemployment rates, which only means wealthy employers are getting even wealthier at the expense of the underpaid working class.” “Unemployment benefits are creating jobs faster than practically any other program.” And we're all over Mourdock for saying something dumb???? Geez, wake up. She really means this stuff! VOTE REPUBLICAN AND SAVE AMERICA!
    • Pelosi
      Pelosi is for welfar, social security, and medicaid for illegal immigrants. These are people here illegally and taking American jobs and then asking America to pay taxes to support them. Quote from the Sage Pelosi “We have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help along with millions of unemployed minorities. Stock market profits taxes could go a long ways to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have as “Americans.”" Tax the rich to support the illegals is what this sounds like. She's asking me to pay for people who don't pay taxes who are considered felons to be in this country at all under the circumstances. She needs to GO! Vote Republican and save us from this INSANE form of socialism!
    • Dear HA HA HA and others
      Republicans, please tell me precisely why Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are ruining this country. And please no Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck/Sean Hannity name calling, fear-mongering projectionism. Only use legitimate reasons. The first person to use any demeaning words like Dumbocrat gets called a RepubliCONVICT.
    • LOL
      It kills me that all of you are focusing on this rather than the fact that Harry Reid is one of the main reasons our economy has been destroyed. We need Mourdock to rid ourselves of Harry Reid, a real threat to the American way of life. We will also need Akin. I'm not voting for Mourdock because of Mourdock. I'm voting for Mourdock to remove Harry Reid. We have to do this to save America! Remove Harry Reid--- vote Mourdock.
      • put a bun in my hair
        Hey, I'm a male but if my wife would allow me to be barefoot and put a bun in my hair, I'd love to stay home and clean and cook. I've done that on vacations and found it much better than working 16 to 23 hour days to support my family and the other 47 million people who are I'm also supporting.
      • We are there
        Didn't everyone know? We are already there, and surpressing our women. Men have it a ton better. Women have no place in our world other than barefoot and pregnant. I tell my wife this every night before bed, but we paid for our birth control, so she knows I am just kidding!! This is worse than black people and slavery. Basically, if you are a white male, you are the most discriminated against than any other sub-culture. We are looked at as if we all are arcaic in our beliefs, and we should be barefoot and pregnant. This "war on women" thing is the most ridiculas pile of Poop ever!! Everyone, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and vote for JOBS. Maybe if our ladies are working, they can pay for their own birth control, and again, feel that they are an important part of society.
      • ??
        Mourdock said: I am against abortion, even for rape and incest cases. Wow, a politician who actually stood and said what he felt!!! That is amazing in itself. What's funny is democrats who want to focus on the wording of it. I don't think Mourdock should have to defend God's postion on rape. If you believe he is an omnipotent God then he does allow rape!!!! It's not for Mourdock to explain WHY God allows it. It is upstanding that he stood up for how he felt on a very dividing issue. I bet Donnely would have skirted answering the question at all and I can assure you OBAMA would have skirted it because he skirts around everything relying on attacks on the wording of answers of our NEXT president!
        • the agenda
          Of course he didn't intend to say that rape was god's will. He intended to say we need to keep women down on the farm, because they can't be trusted to make decisions on their own. And BTW ladies, your official uniform is now required (waist length hair braided in a bun, plain dresses no shorter than shin length, and flat-soled shoes).
          • TEA Party Kool Aid
            Mourdock is proof that the TEA Party is more radical than the left-wing radicals of the 60's. If your position is that women need to revert to 1955, then Mourdock is your guy. If your position is that all women are equal in every way, and that women, not politicians in the GOP, should decide all of their private medical decisions, then Donnelly is a better choice. Donnelly is against abortion, however Donnelly believes that women make their own choice regarding pregnancy. I would love to see how Mourdock's female family members vote. I am betting that a whole lot of women are now saying, "These TEA Party Activists are going to destroy Women's Rights in America" and that should really scare everyone.

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            1. Aaron is my fav!

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