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Did Richard Mourdock's rape comment cost the GOP Indiana's Senate seat?
The Indiana Republican says that pregnancy from rape is "something that God intended to happen"
 
Republican Richard Mourdock participates in a debate in New Albany, Ind., on Oct. 23: Mourdock's comments about pregnancy and rape are being likened to Todd Akin's.
Republican Richard Mourdock participates in a debate in New Albany, Ind., on Oct. 23: Mourdock's comments about pregnancy and rape are being likened to Todd Akin's.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

When conservative Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) unseated longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in the state's Republican primary, the GOP's hopes of keeping the safe Senate seat slipped a notch. Mourdock might have kicked it a notch lower in Tuesday night's debate against rival Rep. Joe Donnelly (D). Asked whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, Mourdock replied that while he's "struggled" with that question for a long time, "I came to realize that 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." Man, says Margaret Hartmann at New York, "one might think that after all the trouble Todd Akin caused for the GOP by sharing his thoughts on 'legitimate rape,' Republican candidates across the country would be choosing their words on the topic extremely carefully." Akin, who's now running uphill to unseat vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), was quickly ostracized by GOP officials after his comment, and Mitt Romney, who cut an ad for Mourdock that started running on Monday, immediately responded through a spokeswoman that he "disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views." Before the debate, Mourdock was slightly ahead in the polls — did his rape comment cost him and his party the surprisingly close race?

Mourdock just committed political suicide: I'm not saying that social conservatives should lie about their beliefs, says Ross Kaminsky at The American Spectator, but silence can be golden. Mourdock just let his "pro-life gut reactions trump what any intelligent person knows he should be saying in an election campaign." Especially after the Akin debacle, suggesting that God preordains rape pregnancies is needless "political suicide." Even if this gaffe doesn't cost him the race, it's "just the latest example of why so many call the GOP the 'stupid party.'"
"Message to Mourdock: Shut your (bleeping) mouth"

This isn't as bad as Akin's flub: I, too, am baffled as to "why Mourdock thought it would be helpful to bring up God in this context," says Katrina Trinko at National Review, but I don't "see his comment being equal to Akin's." Akin offensively implied that some rape was legitimate, and erroneously claimed that in cases of true rape, a woman doesn't get pregnant. Mourdock, as he explained later, was simply talking about "a child being a product of rape but also a product of God's grace." That's not helpful to him, but it's also not a deal-breaker.
"Mourdock isn't second Akin"

Democrats can only take this so far: It's true that Mourdock's rape comment isn't "junk science" like Akin's, but instead "a perfectly coherent pro-life statement," says David Weigel at Slate. Still, that doesn't mean it won't sting. "Democrats are already on the attack," and they'll do some damage. But only some. Donnelly is also opposed to abortion in most cases, after all, and worse for Democrats, he "co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act of 2011" — famous for originally recognizing "rape" and "forcible rape." Candidates in glass houses can only throw stones so hard.
"The Democrat running against the GOP's new 'rape gaffe' candidate..."

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

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