When a person says something that turns out to be damaging, some might tell that person to “engage brain before mouth.” Everyone at some point in their life says something they wish they could take back.
In Richard Mourdock’s case, many would say that is what he must have thought when he made a comment about pregnancy and rape. It is a comment that many Republicans are now backing away from the Republican Senate candidate from Indiana and has raised concerns that this could become a problem for presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In fairness to Mourdock and his supporters, the damaging comment that was made was actually twisted around from its’ original intention. The problem for the GOP is that this is another candidate that has put the Republicans on defense and causing voters to reassess what their Republican party stands for.
One can surmise that it would be best for GOP candidates to do their best to refrain from making any comments when it comes to abortion and how it might relate to those who become pregnant through being raped. Now it may sound like I am losing my objectivity by focusing on the GOP only but Mourdock is just one example of how this topic has become toxic for the Republicans.
Going back to 2010, you may recall the trouble Sharron Angle got herself into when asked about if she supported abortion involving women who became pregnant through incest or rape. According to Angle, she opposed abortion because “God has a plan” and also suggested, albeit indirectly, that any pregnant rape victims should “turn a lemon situation into lemonade.” Many who followed closely that Senate race felt that her comments ended up contributing to her downfall.
In August of this year, Republican Todd Akin said during an interview about rape that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” and block pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.” Though he apologized for making the comment, his own party treated him like a Leper and though pressured from them to drop out of the race decided not to step down.
Also in the same month, Pennsylvania’s Tom Smith spoke about his daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy and likened it to conception through rape. Before seeming to qualify his defense, he said “No, no, no. Put yourself in a father’s position,” he said. “Yes, I mean it is similar.” Smith also explained eventually that “It’s life. I’m pro-life. It’s that simple.”
On Tuesday, during a debate against Democratic opponent Joe Donnelly, Mourdock was asked if he felt that abortion should be allowed in cases dealing with incest and rape. He said, “I struggled with 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 is something God intended to happen.” When the debate was over, Mourdock tried to clarify his remark by saying how horrible a thing like rape is and that he believes the act itself is not part of a divine plan.
“God creates life, and that was my point,” Mourdock said in a statement. “God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that he does.”
However, this did not stop Democrats from saying how insensitive the comment is and that this is evidence of an extreme view on women’s rights and abortion. Also, that presidential nominee Mitt Romney had made an ad in supporting Mourdock this week.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, said in a statement following the debate that “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, as Congressional Republicans like Paul Ryan have worked to outlaw all abortions and even narrow the definition of rape.”
Even Romney’s campaign distanced itself immediately from what Mourdock said and that they did not reflect its candidate’s views meaning Romney is against abortion but supports exceptions in cases involving incest and rape.
Though Democrats and many of the GOP are trying to distance themselves from Mourdock, he does have the support of others despite what he said. The anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List group not only backs his characterization and support his candidacy in an email but also accuses his opponent, Rep. Joe Donnelly, of twisting his words.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser wrote Wednesday morning that “Richard Mourdock said that life is always a gift from God, and we couldn’t agree more. To report his statement as an endorsement of rape is either willfully ignorant or malicious.”
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, also came to the defense of the Republican candidate by saying, “Richard and I, along with millions of Americans – including even [Democratic opponent] Joe Donnelly – believe that life is a gift from God,” Cornyn said. “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.”
Once again, the GOP has found themselves on the defense because of damaging comments made by one of their own. Though many have quickly decided to distance themselves from the Republican candidate, some have decided to continue their support of his character as well as his candidacy.
One has to wonder if this will not only hurt his chances come Election Day but Mitt Romney’s as well. Both Smith and Alkin are trailing in their races to unseat both incumbent Democrats. So far, Mourdock had a five-point lead over his opponent in the most recent Rasmussen poll.
However, according to an internal survey commissioned by Donnelly, it showed the Democrat leading Mourdock, 40-38. Will this latest incident hurt the Republican candidate’s chance for a victory or will the Democrats attack on Mourdock backfire and actually gain support come Election Day? What do you think?
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