Republican US Senate candidate Richard Mourdock has said he is sorry if anyone misunderstood his comment that pregnancy resulting from rape can be "something that God intended to happen."
Mr Mourdock, who is a tight race for a Senate seat in Indiana, some people have interpreted his remarks at a debate on Tuesday night as condoning rape. He said on Wednesday that his comments had been "twisted" by some people and that he abhors rape and violence against women.
Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign distanced him from the remark, saying the candidate disagreed with it and it did not reflect his views, Reuters reports.
The incident was the second time during the 2012 campaign that a conservative Republican candidate for the US Senate made controversial remarks about rape.
Missouri candidate Todd Akin said in August that women have natural defences against pregnancy from "legitimate rape." Republicans disavowed Mr Akin's comment and he has trailed Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in most polls since then.
Some Republicans distanced themselves from Mr Mourdock's comments on Wednesday and Democrats pounced on the remarks.
President Barack Obama's campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the president believed Mr Mourdock's comment was "outrageous and demeaning to women."
Loss of what was once considered a safe Republican seat in Indiana would be a severe blow to Republican hopes of taking control of the US Senate.