Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said Tuesday an ad released by his U.S. Senate campaign depicting him, shotgun in hand, hunting “RINOS” (Republicans in name only) was a metaphor that every “normal person” understood.
But many people, including police officers, did not interpret the ad that way. The Missouri State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police has condemned the ad, along with a host of Republican and Democratic politicians.
Greitens portrayed the ad, released Monday, as “extraordinarily effective” in an interview Tuesday morning with Pete Mundo on KCMO Talk Radio, but didn’t disclose whether it had boosted his fundraising. He defended its violent imagery, dismissing those who fear it could lead to real-world violence.
“Every normal person around the state of Missouri saw that. It’s clearly a metaphor,” said Greitens, who resigned as governor in 2018 amid allegations of sexual assault and blackmail.
In the video, Greitens asked supporters to get their “RINO hunting permit.” It shows Greitens and people in tactical gear storming a house. Twitter added a warning to the video while Facebook took it down.
The loudest critics of the ad, Greitens said, were the RINOS themselves. “They joined the forces with the left and with the mainstream media to come out and attack us,” he said.
But U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and U.S. Rep. Billy Long – all Republican opponents of Greitens and each conservative by any typical definition – condemned Greitens after the ad’s release. The campaign of Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, another Republican opponent, responded with an eye-roll emoji.
Some of the most forceful criticism came from the Missouri State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, which has endorsed Schmitt. It said the ad suggested Greitens was prepared to use violence against his political opponents.
“This deplorable video has no place in our political system and sends a dangerous message that it is somehow acceptable to kill those who have differing political beliefs,” the statement said.
The ad comes amid an ongoing child custody dispute between Greitens and his ex-wife, Sheena Chestnut Greitens. An attorney for Sheena Greitens said she plans to file the video as an exhibit in the ongoing court case. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday.
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