Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign said on Wednesday that they disagreed with Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's statement that pregnancy from rape "is something that God intended to happen," but the former Massachusetts governor still supports him.
During a debate on Tuesday night, Mourdock had said that he did not support abortion in cases of rape or incest.
“I believe life begins at conception,” he explained. “The only exception I have for to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”
Romney has endorsed Mourdock and recorded an advertisement personally encouraging voters to support him. Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's super PAC also donated $5,000 to the tea party-backed candidate in June.
In August, Romney appeared at a campaign event with Mourdock in Evansville, Indiana.
"This is a man that I want to see in Washington to make sure that we cannot just talk about changing things, but actually have the votes to get things changed," Romney said.
Democrats have called on Romney to rescind his endorsement of Mourdock and immediately pull the advertisement.
But Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul insisted on Wednesday that the former governor still backed Mourdock.
"Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock, and Mr. Mourdock’s comments do not reflect Gov. Romney’s views," Saul said in a statement. "We disagree on the policy regarding exceptions for rape and incest but still support him."
For his part, Mourdock held a press conference on Wednesday and said his comments had been taken out of context.
"I made a comment that I made, quite honestly, from the deepest roots and the greatest base of my faith," the Senate candidate told reporters. "I'm a much more humble person this morning because so many people mistook, twisted, came to misunderstand the points that I was trying to make."
"I spoke from my heart, I spoke with my principle, I spoke from my faith, and if others wish to turn those words and somehow use them against me, again, that's what's wrong with Washington today," he added. "Anyone who goes to the video tape and views [it] understands fully what I meant."
"I don't think God wants rape, I don't think he wants that at all because rape is evil. I abhor evil. I want to assure every woman who sees this and reads the story that I abhor it and I'm confident God abhors it."
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz connected Mourdock's comments to Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's claim that women could not get pregnant through "legitimate rape."
"Unfortunately, these types of comments have become part and parcel of the modern Republican Party's platform towards women's health," she said. "Congressional Republicans like Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, have worked to outlaw all abortions and even narrow the definition of rape."
"Try as he may to distance himself, Mitt Romney has demonstrated time and time again that he is a part of the extreme right wing of the GOP with the likes of Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, especially when it comes to issues effecting women and their bodies. Just this weekend, Romney endorsee Steve King questioned whether birth control is even legal. There is definitely a pattern here."