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July 24, 2017

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US Senate candidate draws fire over rape remarks

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock drew fire late Tuesday after saying that pregnancies caused by rape were "something God intended to happen" while defending his opposition to abortion.

Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney was quick to distance himself from the gaffe as Democrats pounced, sensing an opening to brand him as an extremist among vital women voters less than two weeks ahead of election day.

Speaking at a Senate debate, Mourdock said he believed life begins at conception and opposed abortion in all cases except when the mother's life was in danger.

"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize 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," he said.

Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker quickly responded, issuing a statement saying that "as a pro-life Catholic, I'm stunned and ashamed that Richard Mourdock believes God intended rape.

"Victims of rape are victims of an extremely violent act, and mine is not a violent God. Do we need any more proof that Richard Mourdock is an extremist who's out of touch with Hoosiers?" he asked, referring to Indiana natives.

Romney's campaign moved to distance him from the remarks, with spokeswoman Andrea Saul saying "Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views."

Romney has said he opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the mother's life.

The exchange threatened to put the divisive issue of abortion front and center in the closely-fought presidential race.

Another Republican Senate candidate, Todd Akin of Missouri, sparked controversy in August when he said that a woman's body could prevent conception in cases of "legitimate rape."

Those remarks brought an avalanche of condemnation from both political parties and from Romney himself. Akin apologized for the remarks, but refused Republican demands to quit the race.

Akin's refusal to step down raised doubts about whether Republicans would be able to wrest back control of the 100-member Senate from Democrats in congressional elections, also due to be held Nov. 6.

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