WASHINGTON -- An aide to Rep. Todd Akin declined to criticize Mitt Romney for his latest stumbles on Tuesday, saying that Akin was standing by the GOP presidential nominee despite his "inelegant statement."

Romney abandoned Akin last month while the congressman, who is running for Senate in Missouri, was facing heavy criticism for saying that victims of "legitimate rape" cannot get pregnant.

"[H]is fellow Missourians urged him to step aside," Romney said at the time. "I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race."

But on Tuesday, Rick Tyler, a senior adviser to Akin, stood by Romney.

"I am not going to join the media in piling on when a fellow Republican makes an inelegant statement," he replied in an email to The Huffington Post when asked whether Akin believes Romney should step aside.

Tyler was a longtime aide to former GOP presidential candidate and House Speaker Newt Gingrich who recently signed on with Akin.

Romney has been weathering criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for describing nearly half the electorate as "dependent on government" because they don't pay federal income taxes and saying they "believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

Conservative pundit Bill Kristol jokingly wrote in the Weekly Standard that it might be time for Romney to drop his bid for the presidency so another conservative can run in his place.

"It remains important for the country that Romney wins in November (unless he chooses to step down and we get the Ryan-Rubio ticket we deserve!)," said Kristol. "But that shouldn't blind us to the fact that Romney's comments, like those of Obama four years ago, are stupid and arrogant."

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