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Debate highlights candidates' abortion stance

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Candidates - for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat Democrat Joe Donnelly, left, Libertarian Andrew - Horning, center, and Republican Richard Mourdock - participate in a debate in New Albany, Ind., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. - (AP POOL PHOTO/MICHAEL CONROY)
  • (AP pool photo/Michael Conroy)
  • Candidatesfor Indiana's U.S. Senate seat Democrat Joe Donnelly, left, Libertarian AndrewHorning, center, and Republican Richard Mourdockparticipate in a debate in New Albany, Ind., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012.

By Sarah Seward

Republican Richard Mourdock said during a U.S. Senate debate Tuesday that "God intended" pregnancies that occur as a result of rape, which led GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to distance himself from the comment.

"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God," he said. "And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

After the debate, Mourdock sought to clarify his comments, saying repeatedly that "God creates life."

"Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think God ordained or pre-ordained rape? No, I don't think that anyone could suggest that," Mourdock said.

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

Just this week, the Mourdock campaign began airing an ad featuring Romney. Saul did not comment when asked whether the Romney campaign would request that Mourdock stop running the commercial.

At the debate, Mourdock's opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Donnell, said that he supports abortion only in cases of rape, incest and when the pregnancy is a life risk to the mother. Afterward, he condemned Mourdock's comments.

"Rape is a horrible crisis, an unspeakable crime, and I can't believe that my God, or any God, would intend it to happen," Donnelly said in a press conference afterwards.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker sent out a statement almost immediately after the debate that said "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 said.

The debate took place at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany. Dennis Ryerson, a retired editor of The Indianapolis Star, was the moderator.

Mourdock, who has been blasted by Democrats for his fiery brand of politics, said he likes making his opinions known.

"He says I like to inflict my opinion on others," Mourdock said. "You know what, I do. I love what I'm doing right now. I love to get people to think about these issues. It's important stuff. This is the future of our country."

He also blasted Donnelly, saying that the Democrat has a habit of not sticking with his principles.

"Partisanship in Washington D.C. causes people to do the wrong thing," Mourdock said. "I'm a person who stands by his principles and works with others to get things done."

Mourdock said that Donnelly told Hoosier voters he would make a bipartisan effort in Congress, but he instead "saw his principles melt away like July ice cream."

Donnelly said that Mourdock's definition of bipartisanship is Democrats doing what Republicans want them to.

Donnelly, who represents the 2nd District in the U.S. House, voted for President Barack Obama's health care law. If elected Donnelly said he will "fix health care, not blow it all up again."

Mourdock said that he would work to end "Obamacare."

Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning was virtually ignored by the other candidates when he asked why Republicans and Democrats should be given another chance in office when they have "screwed up" so much in the past.

"When you have two parties bickering sometimes you need to have a marriage counselor come in. We need a third party to come in," Horning said.

Sarah Seward is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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