JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Five senior Missouri Republicans have called on U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin to end his campaign following his comments about rape.

The statement Tuesday from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and four former Missouri senators — John Ashcroft, Kit Bond, Jim Talent and John Danforth — says they "do not believe it serves the national interest for Congressman Todd Akin to stay in this race."

National Republicans are also pressuring Akin to quit. Blunt and Talent also have close ties to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Blunt is Romney's congressional liaison, and Talent has traveled extensively with Romney and has a role in planning the potential transition to a Romney administration.

Akin has apologized since saying women's bodies are sometimes able to prevent pregnancies after what he called "a legitimate rape."