Republican Senate candidate Eric Greitens is facing backlash after airing a political ad that depicts him hunting members of his party who are not “true” Republicans.
In the commercial, which isn’t airing on television but is being shared widely online, Greitens disparages “RINOs” — an acronym for “Republican In Name Only,” which has been used by pro-Trump Republicans in the past couple of years to refer to party members who disagree with or criticize the former president.
The shotgun is being held, and the group is accompanied with several other people wearing camouflage uniforms in commando style and holding rifles. Greitens is shown walking down a sidewalk saying that he’s going “RINO hunting.”
In the next scenes Greitens, his entourage, burst into a residence and fire off a Flash-Bang grenade. This mimics a SWAT Team raid or military raid. Greitens walks toward the camera and invites viewers to “join the MAGA crew” and to “get a RINO hunting permit.”
“There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country,” he adds.
Greitens served briefly as Missouri’s governor from 2008 to 2018, when it was discovered that he had an extramarital relationship. He was later indicted for the following: Abusing and blackmailing the person in the relationship. Last year Greitens announced that he’d make a return to politics by running for an open U.S. Senate seat in the state.
Social media users and elected officials condemned the ad for encouraging violence against political opponents. Greitens has responded to those complaints by claiming that “there [isn’t] a real person in Missouri who thinks about it literally,” and that “faux outrage” against the ad is coming from “leftists and RINOS.”
These claims aside, at least one Twitter user shared the ad. “We’ve got our permit and we’re coming for you,” the user wrote in their message.
As a result of the sharing of the commercial Facebook announced that it would remove Greitens’s ad for “violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement.”
Many people have voiced their disapproval of the advertisement. Greitens is “desperately seeking an endorsement from Donald Trump” in a “cringe-inducing way,” MSNBC host Chris Hayes said on Monday night.
“It is both disgusting and not surprising that Greitens released this dangerous, irresponsible, and reckless ad,” Missouri Democrats Executive Director Randy Dunn said in a statementWe are calling on the GOP for an end to the violence rhetoric
A number of Missouri Republican lawmakers have condemned the ad, including State Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, who said that he reached out to law enforcement about Greitens’s ad.
“We have been in contact with the Missouri Highway Patrol and hope that former Gov. Greitens finds the help he needs,” Rowden said.
Some were critical of the response because it incorrectly placed blame on mental illness and Greitens, not Greitens. the latest in a long line of Republicans who have increased their use of violent rhetoricOver the past few months.
“Eric Greitens isn’t mentally ill,” said Shannon WattsMoms Demand Action was founded by, “He [is]An abuser, a deviant and a bully, as well as a misogynist and an extremist. He is a danger to democracy, an extreme blight on humanity, and a threat to everyone who disagrees with him. He is also corrupt and power-hungry. Those are all personal choices.”