Wendy Long, the Republican candidate challenging U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, says controversial statements made by other GOP Senate candidates have become diversions from more relevant issues.

The most recent incident happened during a debate Tuesday when Richard Mourdock, a Republican Senate candidate in Indiana, said "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Speaking Thursday on WNBF Radio's Binghamton Now program, Long said Democrats and the news media have seized on that comment and remarks by other candidates to divert attention from the economy and other key election issues.

Long acknowledged Mourdock's comments were "inelegantly stated" and constituted a gaffe.

Long said she finds it "truly amazing" that the media "latch onto these things" when gaffes are made by Republicans while not giving as much attention to misstatements by Vice President Joe Biden.

Long said remarks from some GOP candidates turn into the "story of the week" while other topics such as unemployment and the threat of terrorism receive far less coverage.

Long said she wishes the national media were "more responsible" and not divert attention from the records of President Obama and Senator Gillibrand on jobs and the economy.

Long said it's appropriate to discuss the abortion issue, noting she's "pro-life." But she maintained the focus on poorly-worded statements isn't helpful.

She said hoped the recent controversies involving Republican candidates won't harm Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

Long said it "would be a tragedy" if a "couple of campaign-trail misstatements" could sway the outcome of an election.