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Rove apologizes to Akin for joke about murder

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Friday, August 31, 2012, at 7:06 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012, at 9:46 a.m.

Political operative Karl Rove apologized Friday for a joke he purportedly made about murdering U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported Friday morning that Rove made a joke that alluded to killing Akin as he briefed about 70 influential Republican donors on the last day of the GOP convention in Florida.

“We should sink Todd Akin. If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts,” Rove reportedly told the Tampa Club as he explained how his super PAC, Crossroads GPS, planned to beat President Barack Obama this fall.

Rove apologized for the remark after it drew a sharp reaction from Steve Taylor, Akin’s district director, who was upset that the comment came as authorities are investigating threats against the St. Louis area congressman’s life.

Akin campaign spokesman Ryan Hite said Rove personally phoned the Senate candidate late Friday afternoon to apologize.

“They spoke for a while and the congressman accepted his apology,” Hite said.

Earlier Friday, the situation was less conciliatory.

“My staffers are living under threat,” Taylor said in an interview early Friday afternoon. “There’s an FBI investigation into threats against the congressman. There have been threats against his family and staff.”

“I am disappointed by that type of statement given what’s going on and the rhetoric and the current investigation.”

A spokesman for Crossroads said by email that Rove and Akin “have spoken and are moving on.”

Akin has been something of a pariah within the Republican establishment since he made a remark in a television interview in St. Louis about “legitimate” rape and pregnancy.

In that interview, Akin was asked if abortion should be allowed in rape cases.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said.

Since that time, a number of Republicans across Missouri and the nation have been calling for Akin to leave the Senate race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

Akin later said he misspoke and has apologized in campaign ads broadcast across the state.

Taylor said he was surprised Rove would make any comments alluding to violence, especially after the shooting of then-congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.

“After the Gabby Giffords incident and after the environment we’ve been working under with a lot of hyperbole … I was surprised someone with such a high-profile position would make a comment about a seated congressman in such a fashion,” Taylor said.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Farm Bureau announced Friday that it is re-examining its endorsement of Akin.

“After polling the Missouri Farm Bureau county leaders, a majority believe the endorsement of Todd Akin for U.S. Senate should be reconsidered,” said Farm Bureau spokesman Estil Fretwell, an adviser to the group’s political arm.

Hite, the Akin campaign spokesman, said the congressman has worked well with the Farm Bureau during his tenure in Congress but said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s their decision. We’re looking forward.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story. To reach Brad Cooper, call 816-234-7724 or send email to bcooper@kcstar.com.

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