In Wisconsin, former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, who faces Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin, called Mourdock’s comments “really sad.”
“I’ve got a wife and two daughters and six granddaughters,” he said in an interview. “Anything dealing with rape against women is uncalled for. Period. No tolerance whatsoever.”
Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, told CNN that his continued support of Mourdock “depends on what he does.” The Arizona lawmaker who was the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, said he wants to see “if he apologizes and says he misspoke and he was wrong and asks people to forgive him. It’s when you don’t own up to it that people will not believe in you.”
Mourdock’s debate comment recalled GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin’s remark in August about rape and pregnancy. The Missouri congressman said women’s bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” Republicans, led by Romney, called for Akin to abandon the race, but he refused and is pressing ahead against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Romney and several Republicans have been moderating their positions in the campaign’s closing days, making their final pitch to the independents, undecideds and female voters whose votes could tip both the presidential election and majority control of the Senate. Recent national polls have shown Obama’s edge with female voters shrinking to single digits.
Mourdock’s comment rattled the races, including his own surprisingly competitive contest with Rep. Joe Donnelly. Mourdock had prevailed over six-term Sen. Richard Lugar in a bitter GOP primary in May.
Democrats, who have pushed the narrative of a Republican “war on women,” eagerly made Mourdock’s comment an issue for Romney and Senate GOP candidates. The Democrats are increasingly hopeful that they can hold their slim Senate advantage despite defending 23 seats to the GOP’s 10.