By Elise Viebeck - 10/24/12 04:47 PM EDT
Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (R) on Wednesday said Democrats have twisted the meaning of his comments about abortion.
Mourdock's position is that abortion should only be legal when necessary to prevent the death of the mother. He argues abortion should be illegal in cases of rape and incest, and on Tuesday night said that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen."
The Senate candidate made the initial remarks about abortion at a Tuesday night debate against Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and on Wednesday said they reflect his religious faith.
"I would be less than faithful to my faith if I said anything other than life is precious. I think it is a gift from God. I don't think God would ever want anyone harmed, sexually abused, or raped. I think it's wrong when someone wants to take what I said and twist it," he said.
Mourdock is an Evangelical Christian. Many who share his faith believe God chooses when conception occurs and that abortion is equivalent to murder.
Democrats seized on Mourdock's Tuesday night remark and used it to criticize both Mourdock and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has cut an ad for Mourdock.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Mourdock repeated his position on abortion and said he abhorred rape.
"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's comments came in the midst of his tight Senate race against Donnelly. Republicans once viewed Indiana as a safe seat for their party despite Mourdock's primary victory over Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), which divided Republicans. But Donnelly has run a strong campaign, and polls show a neck-and-neck race.
The comments could also have implications for the presidential race, as the Obama campaign quickly pounced on Mourdock's comments and sought to tie them to Romney.
The Romney campaign said it will not ask that an ad for Mourdock that features the GOP presidential nominee be taken down. Yet, the campaign distanced itself from Mourdock on Tuesday night.
"Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.
Mourdock said Wednesday that his team has had no contact with the Romney campaign in the last 24 hours.
This article was updated at 5:37 p.m.