Under fire from opponents and some allies for the comments he made about rape at a debate Tuesday night, Indiana GOP Senate nominee Richard Mourdock argued at a press conference Wednesday that the media and his Democratic opponent misinterpreted his words.
Democrats seized on Mourdock's answer to a question about whether he supported abortion for pregnancies resulting from rape.
"I've struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God," Mourdock said during the debate. "And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
Responding to the firestorm of criticism on Wednesday, Mourdock said he "wasn't very articulate" in his answer.
"I think that God can see beauty in every life," Mourdock said during the press conference. "But certainly I did not intend to suggest that God wants rape."
Mourdock, who appeared to get choked up at different times during the press conference, reiterated that he opposes abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother.
Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly
criticized Mourdock in a statement released after the debate.
"I think rape is a heinous and violent crime in every instance," Donnelly said. "The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen -- ever. What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape."
Mourdock took issue with Donnelly's characterization of his remarks, calling it "sad." Donnelly is pro-life but said during the debate that he supports exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
, who cut a television ad for Mourdock earlier this week, distanced himself from Mourdock Tuesday night with a statement from his campaign. Rep. Mike Pence
, the GOP's gubernatorial nominee in Indiana, called on Mourdock to apologize for the remark.
Mourdock didn't apologize at the press conference but sought to clarify what he meant. He said he didn't receive calls from the Romney campaign or anyone else asking him to apologize. Mourdock did hear from some supporters after the debate, he said.
"I had people calling me after the debate, saying 'great job, you explained it perfectly,'" he said.
Mourdock also expressed optimism that the attention generated by the remarks would energize his supporters with less than two weeks left before Election Day.
"Sometimes controversy can be a good things in politics," he said.
But the fallout from Mourdock's comments doesn't seem to be going away. The Louisville Courier-Journal
announced its endorsement
of Donnelly Wednesday afternoon, saying that Mourdock's remarks at the debate made the Democrat "the only rational choice for voters."
While Romney is expected to easily win Indiana in November, polls show a tight Senate race. Democrats have portrayed Mourdock as too extreme for the state, arguing Donnelly better fits the mold of GOP Sen. Richard Lugar
, who is finishing his sixth term in the Senate.