(The Hill) – Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens (R) is facing criticism after he released a new video urging his supporters to go “RINO hunting.”
The Missouri Republican shared a 38-second video on Twitter where he touts his past as a Navy SEAL and is seen breaking into a house while going what he calls “RINO hunting.”
“The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice. … There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country,” he says in the video.
Facebook has removed the video, and according to The Hill, A spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said the video showing Greitens breaking into a house with a gun in hand was removed “for violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement.”
Twitter did not remove the video, but tagged it saying it “violated the Twitter rules about abusive behavior.”
Greitens then accused Facebook of censoring him.
Greitens, who is seen holding a long shotgun for the duration of the video, is surrounded by men in U.S. armed forces camouflage uniforms. He also urged his supporters to join the “MAGA crew” and to get a “RINO hunting permit” after he rushed into an empty house while his crew tossed in a flash grenade.
He shared the video with a caption Monday that said, “we are sick and tired of the Republicans in Name Only surrendering to Joe Biden & the radical Left.”
Greitens, who calls himself a conservative and an “outsider,” faced swift retaliation on social media for alluding to hunting humans in the video.
U.S. Senate candidate and Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler responded to the ad by saying, “Greitens is an abuser, a blackmailer, & less than 10 years ago — a Democrat. There’s no basement too low for him to cover up his past Obama support & blindfold Missourians into believing he represents their values.” She added that the only RINO featured in his ad is Greitens himself, according to our Missouri Capitol Reporter Emily Manley.
The Missouri Independent reported Rep. Billy Long, who is also a U.S. Senate candidate, said the video is “very distasteful.”
Trudy Busch Valentine, A Democratic candidate for Senate, tweeted, “Eric Greitens is more interested in attention-seeking publicity stunts than solving real problems. We need our leaders to turn down the dial & work together. This type of rhetoric only serves to increase division. I strongly condemn this despicable ad. Missourians deserve better.”
Missouri Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden responded to a tweet from an unofficial Greitens Twitter account Monday and said he has contacted the Missouri State Highway Patrol about the tweet. The tweet has since been deleted but Emily Manley reports it said “we’ve got permits out and we’re coming for you.”
Rowden tweeted, “We have been in contact with the Missouri Highway Patrol and hope that former Gov Greitens finds the help he needs. Anyone with multiple accusations of abuse toward women and children should probably steer clear of this rhetoric.” It should be noted the account is not confirmed to be directly associated with Eric Greitens and is unofficial.
The Hill has reached out to Greitens’s campaign office for comment.
The former Missouri governor was forced to resign in 2018 after allegations of campaign finance violations and sexual assault of a woman he was dating surfaced. He announced he would run for the seat left open by the upcoming retirement of GOP Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.).
Greitens has also been accused of abusing his ex-wife Sheena Greitens, who said that her ex-husband grew physically violent with her and her children.
She shared disturbing details including that Eric Greitens bought a gun, hid it from his family and threatened to kill himself if his then-wife did not provide “specific public political support” prior to his resignation.
Kansas City Star reporter Karen J Bayless tweeted Monday that she asked Sheena Greitens’ attorney if she plans to use the ad in the child custody dispute, and according to Bayless the attorney said she would and called the ad “over the line.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) previously said that Greitens should drop out of the Missouri race after the allegations of abuse came to light. “If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate,” Hawley tweeted. “It’s time for Eric Greitens to leave this race.”
The Missouri Democratic Party released a statement calling on Greitens to remove the ad permanently and for the Missouri Republican Party to denounce the rhetoric in the ad.
The video comes as a bipartisan group of 20 senators — 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats — announced an agreement on nine principles for the potential legislation, including funding for school mental health and safety programs and reviews of juvenile records for gun purchasers under the age of 21.