Mourdock aides said the McCain spot was taped before Mourdock's Wednesday press conference. But Mourdock never apologized for those comments.
But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Sen. John Cornyn issued statements of support, acutely aware that Mourdock's fortunes in Indiana could hold the key to winning control of the Senate. Republicans must gain four seats if President Barack Obama is re-elected, three if Romney prevails.
In Indiana, it wasn't supposed to be this way. Mourdock's upset of veteran Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in the May primary created an opening for Democrats looking to fight for what would have otherwise been a safe GOP seat. The surprisingly close race between Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly has spurred national Republicans to send more money and national stars to Indiana recently in an attempt to hold the seat.
Although Ayotte cancelled plans to headline a fundraiser for Mourdock in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Republican Women Club pushed on with the fundraiser. Speaking inside the closed-door event, Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb declined to comment on Mourdock's explanation Wednesday and said the loss of Ayotte from the trail Wednesday would not slow their efforts to elect Mourdock.
"I think we're moving full steam ahead," he said.
Mourdock's rape comment seemed to fall a few steps short of Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin's comment earlier this summer that a woman's body would block against pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape," both in terms of the comment itself and its potential impact in the race.
National Republican and conservative groups, including Crossroads GPS, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Club for Growth, continued their on-air assault against Donnelly. A Democratic source tracking ad buys nationally said Wednesday there was no effort from Mourdock supporters to pull out of the state, as there was in Missouri, following Akin's comments.
Democrats capitalized on the remarks Wednesday, holding press calls and press conferences and cutting Web ads tying Romney to Mourdock. Donnelly appeared in downtown Indianapolis in front of the Julian Center, which counsels victims of rape, sex trafficking and abuse.