William Murray, who heads the Government is Not God Political Action Committee, says Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., was due an apology for a reference by longtime Republican adviser Karl Rove to Akin’s “murder.”

“If Karl Rove does not immediately apologize to Congressman Akin then presidential candidate Mitt Romney should publicly demand that he apologize,” Murray told WND early today.

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Murray was just one of those reacting strongly today to the report of Rove’s “joke.” Other comments ranged from “About hilarious as a rape joke,” to a prediction there will be little fallout.

And the AP reported late today that Rove did apologize, and Akin campaign adviser Rick Tyler said Akin accepted the apology during a telephone call.

Joseph Farah, founder and CEO at WND.com, said, “Rove’s got to go. Here’s a guy who went ballistic over an innocent slip of the tongue – demanding that the GOP candidate for Senate in Missouri quit the race over it. Now it’s time for Rove to follow his own advice. He’s a major liability to the Republican effort. Just out of sheer decency standards, Fox News should drop him as a contributor. Sean Hannity should stop pumping up this mean-spirited political operative as ‘the architect.’ Mitt Romney should denounce his remark and ask Rove to step aside in this campaign. What Rove said is far more serious and dangerous than anything coming out of Todd Akin’s mouth. Rove has self-destructed.”

He continued, “An apology is not enough. Akin apologized, too. But that wasn’t enough for Rove. Akin has shown he is a much bigger man than Karl Rove. It’s time for Rove to go.”

The reactions were to a report in Businessweek that discussed an exclusive breakfast at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

The report said Rove took the stage at the Tampa Club for a briefing with about 70 of the most important donors to the GOP.

“During the hour-long session, Rove explained to an audience dotted with hedge fund billionaires and investors – including John Paulson and Wilbur Ross – how his super PAC, American Crossroads, will persuade undecided voters in crucial swing states to vote against Barack Obama,” the report said.

In was in the context of congressional races that he then made the comment, according to the report.

“He also detailed 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!’” Businessweek reported.

Murray, who also is chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, said today that the “joke” “was so distasteful as to shame the entire Republican Party.”

“Congressman Akin made a misstatement on the subject of rape and conception for which he apologized,” he said. “Apparently Karl Rove believes the apology is not enough and that Akin should pay with his life. Jokes about murder are not jokes when it comes to politicians where the risks of assassination are real.”

He continued, “If Karl Rove refuses to apologize to Congressman Akin, then Gov. Romney should publicly disassociate himself from the consultant and his super PAC.”

Murray was among those who continued to support Akin amid the media storm after he misspoke – and as he apologized repeatedly for his error.

According to the Washington Post, Akin’s office issue a statement describing the comment from Rove as disturbing.

That’s because the FBI already was investigating threats made against Akin after his comments that women’s bodies shut down pregnancy when there is a “legitimate rape.”

A WND email to Rove has not generated a response.

The Businesweek report by Sheelah Kolhatkar explained she had been invited as a guest of a financier who is a “significant” GOP donor.

“At no point was I presented with, nor did I agree to, restrictions regarding the information I heard,” the column said. “American Crossroads disputes this version of events, but a spokesman did not immediately return calls to elaborate.”

The discussion by Rove as a “strategy for winning the White House.”

“The people we’ve got to win in this election, by and large, voted for Barack Obama,” Rove explained.

He said focus groups, polling and other information pointed to major groups with a role, and said, “We don’t try and do this alone. We have partners. … The Kochs – you name it.”

Rove said the key would be reminding people what Obama promised, and what he has not accomplished.

According to the report, he explained, “If you keep it focused on the facts and adopt a respectful tone, then they’re gonna agree with you.”

Discussing congressional and Senate races, Rove said he’s confident the GOP will pick up a few seats, but said the biggest risk is Akin.

Businessweek said, “Rove urged every attendee to apply pressure on Akin to convince him to leave the race.”

“We have five people who are interested” in replacing Akin, the report quoted Rove saying. “We don’t care who the nominee is, other than get Akin out.”

As a result of the misstatement, many polls showed Akin’s support plunging. But the most recent, just in the last day or so, have indicated once again he’s about even with the incumbent Democrat, Claire McCaskill.

Akin told the Associated Press he intends to keep campaigning, and win, just as supporters gave him the GOP primary win.

“I would be betraying their trust if I stepped down,” he said.

Other comments included:

The Kansas City Star reported Akin’s staff was alarmed by the Rove statement.

Akin’s district director, Steve Taylor, said, “My staffers are living under threat. 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.”

Ryan Bomberger of LifeNews.com said Rove’s comment was “about as hilarious as a rape joke.”

“I’m sure Akin’s family wouldn’t be laughing about the political guru’s punch line. His comment is far more outrageous than Akin’s feeble attempt to answer a question about abortion and rape, but I predict little to no uproar from either political corner,” he wrote.

Ilya Gerner at Comedy Central wrote, “It had better be an illegitimate murder attempt if there’s any chance of it working.”

The Missouri Farm Bureau is reportedly reconsidering its support for Akin.

Murray, son of the nation’s most famous atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, has been in the news of late with the release of his book, “My Life Without God.”