Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) knocked Karl Rove for his joke about "mysteriously murdering" Rep. Todd Akin (R), the embattled Missouri Senate candidate. 

"In the age of Gabby Giffords, it is not a joke to say a member of Congress ought to get murdered," Gingrich said Sunday on "Meet the Press." 

The former GOP presidential candidate was referring to now-retired Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head last year at a constituent event and is still recovering. 

Akin grabbed headlines last month when he said that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely become pregnant. He then refused to leave his race against Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill welcomes ninth grandson in a row Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities MORE (D-Mo.) over objections from Republican leaders, who fear he could cost them a chance to take back the Senate. 

The ensuing firestorm prompted Rove to say, last week, that if Akin is "found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts." He later apologized.

Gingrich came to Akin's defense Sunday, saying that "Akin has publicly apologized" and "won the primary." 

"Todd Akin was a choice for people in Missouri," Gingrich said.