Mitt Romney has been quick to distance himself from Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who said in a Tuesday debate that when a rape results in pregnancy it's "something that God intended." ("Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," a spokesperson said.) Still, Democrats seized the opportunity to hammer Romney for publicly supporting Mourdock throughout the campaign season, noting that an ad Romney made for Mourdock is the only commercial endorsement Romney has bestowed on a Senate candidate all year. Mourdock tried to settle the matter himself Wednesday, holding a news conference to say that God "abhors rape," and that he was merely trying to express his view that "life is precious." Will the controversy fizzle, or could it hurt Romney just as he's cutting into President Obama's lead among women voters?
This will hurt Romney: "The War on Women is back," says Amy Fried at Politico, and Romney will be "hit by the flak." Mourdock's comments put the GOP's extreme anti-abortion positions back in the spotlight. "There isn't a sliver of difference" between Mourdock's abortion views and those of Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate. And Romney himself has said he'd like to get rid of Roe v. Wade. By reminding women of all this, Mourdock will "undermine Romney among women voters in several key states."
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This won't hurt the GOP at all: Mourdock "wasn't saying that the criminal, immoral act of rape carries the approval of God," says David N. Bass at The American Spectator. He meant that "life — that is, the unborn child — produced by the horrible act of rape is still precious to God." Voters get that, even if the media doesn't. "The pro-life issue isn't a liability for Republicans." If anything, it's the Democrats' "pro-abortion extremism" that turns off voters.
Time will tell: Whether Mourdock's comments ignite a firestorm like the one that engulfed Rep. Todd Akin remains to be seen, says Jonathan Weisman at The New York Times. Akin was favored to beat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) until he said "legitimate rape" seldom causes pregnancy. If Mourdock's comments explode the way Akin's did, Romney will be put in a tough spot: Either he renounces his endorsement, or he'll wind up getting singed.
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