Tampa, Florida (CNN) - Republican strategist Karl Rove ramped up his criticism of Missouri candidate Todd Akin on Monday, calling his recent remarks about rape and abortion "morally incomprehensible" and insisting that he drop out of the race.
"I know Todd. He is a good man and he's got a good heart," Rove said at a breakfast in Tampa hosted by Politico. "He said a really stupid, indefensible thing from which there is no recovery and if he really cares are about the values of conservatism and pro-life, he will not go down for defeat as the biggest loss by a Republican candidate for Senate in modern history."
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To make his point, Rove highlighted last week's Mason-Dixon poll surveying the race between Akin and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The poll showed Akin's support plummeting in the wake of his now-infamous remark that "legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy.
"You can see that the guy was ahead by 10 points just after the Republican primary and a week later is behind by 8 or 9 or 10 and sinking," he said.
Rove's cash-flush 527 group, American Crossroads, has threatened to withhold funding for television ads in Missouri until Akin steps aside.
But the efforts of Washington-based GOP groups like Crossroads to push Akin out of the race have rankled some Christian conservatives, including former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee, who have rallied to Akin's side and urged him to fight on.
Rove said he understood their concerns but said there is no path forward for the Republican congressman.
"I talk to some conservatives who say, 'It's not fair. We have to stand with him,'" Rove said. "Well, it is unfair. I get that. But it was also incredibly wrong, and there was no recovery from it. It would be one thing if it was some minor misstatement. But this was pseudo-science and morally incomprehensible."
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