Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin said he accepted an apology from Republican strategist Karl Rove for a joke about the congressman being “found mysteriously murdered.”

Akin said in a Facebook posting on his campaign website, “I appreciate the call from Karl Rove, and accept the apology.” Rove called Akin Aug. 31, Rick Tyler, an Akin campaign adviser, told the Associated Press. A message seeking comment from Akin’s campaign wasn’t returned Saturday.

Rove and Republicans including Mitt Romney, the party’s presidential nominee, have called on Akin to leave the race to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill after his Aug. 19 comments that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy and so abortion shouldn’t be allowed in rape cases.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported Aug. 31 that Rove, speaking at an Aug. 30 breakfast for donors during the Republican National Convention, discussed plans for Senate and House races and joked, “We should sink Todd Akin. If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!”

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit group founded with help from Rove, declined to comment Saturday.

Akin is the biggest risk to Republican hopes of retaking the Senate from Democrats, Rove said at the Tampa Club to an exclusive breakfast briefing of about 70 of the Republican Party’s highest-earning and most powerful donors, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Seeking Pressure
Rove urged every attendee to apply pressure on Akin to persuade him to leave the race. “We have five people who are interested” in replacing Akin, Rove said. “We don’t care who the nominee is, other than get Akin out.”

Akin, a six-term congressman from suburban St. Louis, has apologized for his remarks and has said he will continue his campaign despite pressure from Republican leaders.

With Democrats controlling the Senate 53-47, Republicans need a net gain of at least three seats in November’s election for a majority. They will need a four-seat pickup if Obama wins re-election, because the vice president casts the tie-breaking vote in the chamber.

Newsday LogoCovering LI news as it happensDigital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months