Updated 3:45 p.m. | INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) sought to clarify his controversial debate comment that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen” this morning, apologizing to those who misunderstood his remarks but standing by their intended meaning.
"If, because of the lack of clarity in my words, they came away with the impression other than those I said a moment ago, that life is precious, that I abhor violence, and God abhors violence and rape. If they came away with any impression other than that, I truly regret it," Mourdock said at a press conference at Indiana Republican Party headquarters
Mourdock choked up repeatedly during the press conference, declaring himself a "more humble person this morning because so many people mistook, twisted, came to misunderstand the point that I was trying to make." But when pressed about his apology, Mourdock defended the original intent behind his statement.
"I spoke from my heart," he said. "For speaking from my heart, for speaking from the deepest level of my faith, I cannot apologize"
Mourdock made the comments when asked about his general views on abortion in the final Senate debate in New Albany, Ind., on Tuesday night. The controversial remarks came just two weeks before Mourdock and the Democratic nominee, Rep. Joe Donnelly, face each other in the highly competitive Senate race.
Democrats seized on Mourdock's comment following the debate and scheduled a press conference with Donnelly for this afternoon. Donnelly is also against abortion rights, but supports exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. Mourdock believes there should only be an exception if the life of the mother is in danger.
The GOP's reaction to Mourdock's comments has been mixed. A spokeswoman for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney confirmed that he does not agree with Mourdock, but continues to support his Senate candidacy. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) also expressed his continued support for Mourdock.
"I didn't want her to be dragged into a situation today that, No. 1, she might get off the plane not knowing what she was going to be seeing," Mourdock said at the press conference. "Call it professional courtesy. We asked her, we made her aware, said it might not be the best thing."
Mourdock acknowledged that there are some in the GOP who disagree with him on this "matter of policy." But he also confirmed that no national Republicans personally requested he apologize for his comments.
Indeed, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in this afternoon, saying, "It's incredibly irresponsible for anyone to take what Richard said about his views on life to demean his opposition to the detestable act of rape. We're at the end of an election season here and I understand each side is looking to make hay out of every comment, but sharing the view of millions of Americans that life begins at conception is Richard’s deeply held personal belief that shouldn’t be misconstrued by partisans to imply something it does not.”