Romney stands by Mourdock, won't ask him to pull down ad

Mitt Romney's campaign on Wednesday reiterated its support for Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (R), saying it will not ask him to pull down an ad featuring the GOP presidential nominee.

Mourdock stirred controversy Tuesday when he said pregnancies resulting from rape can be "something God intended." Romney had already cut the ad for Mourdock, who's in a tough race. It was a rare move for the GOP nominee, who's not gotten involved in many Senate contests.

A Romney official told The Hill the campaign would not ask for the ad, which began airing on Tuesday, to come down.

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Democrats have blasted Romney's ties to Mourdock, using them to push for support from female voters.

"The president felt [Mourdock's] comments were outrageous and demeaning to women," Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One.

"This is a reminder that a Republican Congress working with a Republican president Mitt Romney would [feel] that women should not be able to make choices about their own healthcare. ... This is an issue where Mitt Romney is starring in an ad for this senator [sic] and it is perplexing that he wouldn't demand to have that ad taken down," she said.

"Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock, and Mr. Mourdock’s comments do not reflect Gov. Romney’s views," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told The Hill in a statement Wednesday morning. "We disagree on the policy regarding exceptions for rape and incest but still support him."

Mourdock said Wednesday that his team has had no contact with the Romney campaign in the last 24 hours.

He made the statement a press conference where he claimed Democrats were twisting his words.

"I believe life is precious," Mourdock said. "But certainly I did not meant to suggest that God wants rape, that God pushes people to rape, that God wants to support or condone evil in any way."

He added, "I want to assure every woman who hears this and who reads the stories of this and I abhor [rape] and that God abhors it." 

Mourdock, a Tea Party favorite, made the comments during a debate with opponent Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), as he sought to explain his opposition to abortion rights except in cases where the mother's life is at risk.

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

Democrats have been eager to capitalize on the confusion. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said Tuesday that Mourdock's opposition to abortion in cases of rape is "part and parcel of the Republican Party's platform toward women's health."

"As Mourdock’s most prominent booster and the star of Mourdock’s current campaign ads, Mitt Romney should immediately denounce these comments and request that the ad featuring him speaking directly to camera on Mourdock’s behalf be taken off the air," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

— Elise Viebeck contributed

— This story was updated at 1:14 p.m.