It seems like déjà vu: a U.S. Senate candidate in a tight race makes a controversial statement about rape, setting off an awkward need for a response from the Republican presidential nominee.
This time it was Richard Mourdock in a Tuesday night debate against his opponent Democratic Representative Joe Donnely. He said that, "Life is a gift from God. Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
Mary Beth Schneider is a political reporter at the Indianapolis Star.
"Everyone sort of did a double take — did he just say that?" Schneider says. "It was the only thing in the debate that people were talking about or commenting on immediately. And so it did indeed take over any reaction or any story about the debate their might have been."
Indiana is a conservative state, so all three candidates — including a Libertarian — are running on pro-life platforms. And yet, it seems that Mourdock took things too far.
"If he had just stopped, even after saying that he would not make an exception, except for the life of the mother," Schneider says. "Instead he went on to explain, and bring God into it. And a lot of people were taking his comments as saying that God somehow intended the life to happen through a rape. Now, Mourdock is saying that it's sick and twisted that anybody thinks that. But regardless, within about an hour or two, Mitt Romney was disavowing these comments."
Schneider does not think that Mitt Romney is vulnerable in Indiana, but if Mourdock and Romney are linked outside of Indiana, this could effect the preferences of women voters — a very important constituency.
As for the Senate race narrowing? Schneider says, "I don't know if there's even room for it to narrow. Everybody thinks that this is going to come down to turnout."