Since U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., made his controversial comments on "legitimate rape" on Aug. 19, those words have been a major thorn in the Republican Party's side, resulting in death and rape threats against Akin.
Now, another name may need to be added to the FBI's file: Karl Rove.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Rove was at a Republican National Convention fundraiser when he joked, "We should sink Todd Akin. If he's found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts!"
At Rove's billionaire fundraiser Thursday, the GOP political strategist noted his displeasure with Akin's comments while asking the Republican National Convention's biggest donors for more money. The fundraiser was "an exclusive breakfast briefing to about 70 of the Republican party's highest-earning and most powerful donors," Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
NPR speculated that nobody at the fundraiser knew a journalist was present in the room, explaining why Rove felt he could go so far with the joke. Still, while Akin is definitely a thorn in the GOP's side, the joke may have gone a little too far.
This isn't the first time Rove has criticized Akin, although he appears to have gone much further with his comments this time than before.
"I know Todd. He's a good man. He has a good heart," Rove told Politico, predicting Akin's loss in his electoral race for a U.S. Senate seat in Missouri this November. "But he said a real stupid, indefensible thing from which there's no recovery. And if he really cares about the values of conservatism and pro-life, then he will not go down in defeat with the biggest loss of any Republican candidate for Senate in the modern history."
Of course, Akin was only an aside at the fundraiser. Rove's real discussion was on how best to convince swing voters to cast their ballots for Mitt Romney. The strategy? Attack Barack Obama by sowing doubt in voters' minds.
Bloomberg's analysis of the fundraiser was impeccable, writing: "What had emerged from [focus-group and polling] data is an 'acute understanding of the nature of those undecided, persuadable' voters. 'If you say he's a socialist, they'll go to defend him. If you call him a 'far-out left-winger,' they'll say, 'No, no, he's not.' The proper strategy, Rove declared, was criticizing Obama without really criticizing him -- by reminding voters of what the president said that he was going to do and comparing it to what he's actually done. 'If you keep it focused on the facts and adopt a respectful tone, then they're gonna agree with you.'"