Update: Facebook on Monday removed a controversial campaign video from Missouri GOP Senate candidate Eric Greitens in which he hunts "RINOs" (Republicans In Name Only) and urges others to do the same. Per the AP, Facebook said the video was removed "for violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement." Twitter also said the post violated its rules, but that it was left up (albeit in a restricted fashion, with no sharing allowed) because leaving it viewable was in the “public’s interest." Our original story from Monday follows:
Missouri GOP Senate candidate Eric Greitens on Tuesday published a video encouraging voters to get "RINO-hunting permits." The 38-second spot shows him on the front porch of a home holding a tactical shotgun and "surrounded by men in US armed forces camouflage uniforms," per the Hill. As though narrating a wildlife documentary, Greitens whispers, "the RINO feeds off corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice." The armed men then batter down the door and toss a flash grenade into the residence. Greitens enters and urges viewers to "join the MAGA crew" and get the permit, adding, "there’s no bagging limit ... and it doesn’t expire until we save our country." The caption in the accompanying tweet says, "We are sick and tired of Republicans in Name Only surrendering to Joe Biden & the radical Left."
Backlash came quickly from all sides. Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego said the video "encourages political violence,”"and Rep. Juan Castro, another Democrat, called it "sociopathic." Per the Kansas City Star, Greitens’ GOP primary opponents also condemned the message. Rep. Vicky Hartzler called Greitens "an abuser" and "a blackmailer." Rep. Billy Long said the ad was "very distasteful," but he also called his other primary opponents RINOs and said, "The only way to beat RINOs … is at the ballot box." In response to the Hill, Greitens’ campaign said, "If anyone doesn’t get the metaphor, they are either lying or dumb."
Rolling Stone says, "the ad is not subtle. It isn’t even metaphorical." It is, however, in keeping with past themes in Greitens’ career, including a 2016 campaign video of himself "unleashing hell” with a heavy machinegun. Greitens is former governor of Missouri but was forced to resign in 2018 amid allegations of sexual assault and campaign finance violations. His then-wife also accused him of physical abuse. He and others are running to fill the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt. Per Real Clear Politics, Greitens leads the Republican field in recent polls. The Missouri primary is in August. (GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger warns that "there is violence in the future.")