But the debate sound bite, played over and over again by Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups, was just too jarring.
On Friday, many Republicans cast Mourdock as a good man who paid an extraordinarily high price for a single inelegantly worded remark. Some blamed what they called a hostile news media for making too much of the tempest, a theme pounded by Mourdock’s campaign finance director in a December fundraising solicitation sent to donors in hopes of retiring his campaign debt.
Others noted that Mourdock was saying something, after all, that many other Americans believe: that abortion is taking an innocent life even when that life was conceived under the worst circumstances.
Lon Walters, a GOP activist and past candidate for local office, said he has been Mourdock’s friend for 12 years.
“Everybody makes faux pas,” Walters said. “I think he was somewhat baited, and I think he just got kind of caught up and didn’t answer it the way I would have.”
Sarah Topper, a longtime Warrick County GOP activist, called Mourdock “one of the most respectable statesman I’ve ever known.”
“Democrats absolutely distorted it,” Topper said of the debate incident.
Mourdock is willing to talk about the debate, but there are other things on his mind too.
“I made my statement that night and clarified as many times as I possibly can. I believe God is the author of life and certainly I want life respected,” he said when asked about it,
Mourdock has almost two years left on his term as treasurer, and he has not gone silent. Shortly before the end of the year, he publicly encouraged Indiana families to invest in college savings accounts and collect a state tax credit before the end of the year.
And then there is politics. Mourdock has never denied his love of politics. He said Friday night’s event was his third GOP Lincoln Day dinner of the week, and three more are lined up this week. Now 61, Mourdock declined to rule out another run for political office, noting dryly that he probably would have done just that a few weeks ago. But he has recovered, mentally and physically.