By CHRIS MORRIS
NEW ALBANY —
Republican Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock admits the last 48 hours have been difficult following his comment Tuesday during a debate at Indiana University Southeast that when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape, “that it is something that God intended to happen.”
But he said, other than questions from the news media, voters and Hoosiers he has come into contact with have been nothing but supportive.
“I have received more hugs and people tell me to keep going,” Mourdock said during a press conference at The Grand in downtown New Albany on Friday afternoon. “The subject rarely comes up. So we have been back on message ... how can we get this economy going and what can we do to control health care costs.”
The latter is what brought Mourdock back to New Albany. He met with a group doctors, along with Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, to discuss how President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act will affect the health care industry and patient care.
Mourdock is in a virtual dead heat with Democrat Joe Donnelly for the Senate seat of longtime incumbent Richard Lugar, who was defeated by Mourdock in the May primary. Some polls had Mourdock with a slight lead heading into Tuesday’s debate. However, those same polls show a virtual deadlock following the controversy surrounding Mourdock’s comment.
“We have been hammered in the last 48 hours and to see no worse [than even], I am pleased with the numbers,” he said.
Mourdock and Donnelly said they were pro-life during Tuesday’s debate. Donnelly said he was against abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. Mourdock said only if a mother faced death through giving birth would he support abortion, as he added that “life is a gift from God.”
He continued that though rape is a difficult situation for a woman to deal with, that it was something “God intended to happen” in terms of a life spawning from the crime.
Since his comment, he and the race have taken center stage on the national scene. On Wednesday he tried to clarify his message.
“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,” he said.
Friday, his message was overturning the ills of the Affordable Care Act and how it is driving up medical care and insurance costs and hampering doctors’ ability to practice medicine, he said.
“When I am out talking to voters no subject is brought up more than the Affordable Care Act and what are we going to do about it,” Mourdock said. “I hope on my first day [in the Senate] in January we will repeal ObamaCare.”
Mourdock discussed his health care agenda Friday which includes:
• Making health care expenses 100 percent tax-deductible for all Americans;
• Allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines; and
• Enacting additional medical malpractice insurance and liability reforms
“ObamaCare is killing jobs, pushing folks off their insurance plans and actually raising the cost of health care,” he said. “As we discussed here today, it’s also killing providers and damaging our hospitals. It’s a killer to economic growth.”
Dr. Dan Eichenberger, of Physician’s Associates of Floyds Knobs, was involved in the roundtable and supports Mourdock’s plan to repeal the health care act. He said the Affordable Care Act increases costs and red tape, and said there are many problems with the law.
“There are over 2,000 mandates on insurance companies [with the law] and it creates five new taxes,” said Eichenberger who hosted a fundraiser for Mourdock on Friday evening.
He also said he favors a plan based on “patient choice, competition and strengthening physician-patient relationships.”
Mourdock said the Affordable Care Act cuts $715 billion out of Medicare. He said he also favors Health Savings Accounts, as does Eichenberger, which he said 92 percent of state employees utilize.
He said it allows consumers to make better choices on their medical care and keep the money they save for health care as they grow older.
Election Day is Nov. 6.