McCain Renews Support for Richard Mourdock After Rape Exception Clarification

Michael Conroy/AP Photo

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., walked back his remarks about embattled Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, emphasizing today that he still does support the Republican candidate for Senate.

"Senator McCain is glad that Mr. Mourdock apologized to the people of Indiana and clarified his previous statement," Brian Rogers, Communications Director for Senator John McCain said today, "Senator McCain hopes the people of Indiana will elect Mr. Mourdock to the U.S. Senate."

During debate Tuesday in Indiana, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said pregnancies resulting from rape are part of God's plan, tearfully explaining that he only supports abortions when a mother's life is in danger.

Mourdock clarified his comments in a press release and at a news conference Wednesday, but he didn't apologize, instead accusing critics of "twist[ing]" his words.

"God creates life, and that was my point," he said in a press release. "God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that he does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick."

At a news conference later he said that his words were "mistook and twisted," and that the uproar is symptomatic of "what's wrong with Washington."

"I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen," Mourdock said Tuesday. Mourdock's opponent, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, opposes abortion except in cases of rape and incest.

McCain's statement Thursday is a almost a full turnaround from what the Senator told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday evening when asked whether his support for Mourdock still stands in light of the comments at the debate.

"It depends on what he does, I think it depends on what he does," McCain said Wednesday. "If he apologizes and says he misspoke and he was wrong and he asks the people to forgive him, then obviously I'd be the first-you know, as I said, I'm not sure how big a mistakes that I have made, but, you know, in the years that I've [been] around, I've made a few, Anderson, and I've asked for people's understanding and forgiveness when I own up to it. It's when you don't own up to it that people will not believe in you."

Senator McCain's office explained that the Senator was traveling Wednesday in Florida so did not have an opportunity to see Mr. Mourdock's full press conference before he taped his CNN interview.

Democrats have wasted no time linking GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to Mourdock. Earlier this week, Romney personally ap peared in a TV ad for the Indiana state treasurer offering his endorsement.

Romney's campaign distanced itself from Mourdock's comment.

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

But a television ad cut by Romney for Mourdock continues to run in Indiana and the Romney campaign has not asked for it to come down.

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