“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but 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,” Mourdock said.
Republicans, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, initially distanced themselves from Mourdock but later walked their criticism back, with many saying they didn’t agree with his statement but supported Mourdock’s candidacy.
Democrats spent millions of dollars flooding the airwaves with those comments and other statements by Mourdock in a bid to attract disillusioned Lugar supporters.
For all the Mourdock campaign said about the comment not mattering to voters and arguing that the electorate was more concerned with “Obamacare” and federal spending, voters said it still weighed on their minds in the voting booth.
Kaye Young, 78, of Indianapolis voted for Lugar in the primary and said she thought it was “a shame they kicked him out.”
She said Richard Mourdock “irritated the tar out of me” with his comment on rape. But she still voted for him.
“I don’t want a Democrat in there,” she said. “I’m against Obama and Obamacare. I don’t think Obama has done a good job.
The comment came to be the defining moment of the race. A Howey/DePauw University Battleground poll taken Oct. 28-30 showed Donnelly breaking open a double-digit lead over Mourdock.
“Candidates really matter in Indiana, they (voters) want a good, common-sense approach. They don’t like candidates too far in either direction,” said Christine Matthews, a veteran Republican pollster who conducted the Howey/DePauw poll with Democratic pollster Fred Yang.
“Mourdock was just too far out there, there was just a sense he’s too far outside the mainstream,” she said.
National Republicans descended on Indiana late in the battle after it became apparent Mourdock was in trouble, sending national staff and Republican senators, including National Republican Senate Committee Chairman John Cornyn, to campaign for Mourdock.