Facebook removes GOP Senate candidate’s ‘RINO hunting’ video

Jun 20, 2022, 10:42 AM | Updated: Jun 21, 2022, 6:52 am
FILE - Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, speaks at the Taney County Lincoln Day event at the Chat...

FILE - Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, speaks at the Taney County Lincoln Day event at the Chateau on the Lake in Branson, Mo., April 17, 2021. Greitens, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, has posted a campaign video ad on Twitter that shows him brandishing a long gun and declaring that he's hunting RINOs, or Republicans In Name Only. (Nathan Papes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP, File)

(Nathan Papes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facebook on Monday removed a campaign video by Republican Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens that shows him brandishing a shotgun and declaring that he’s hunting RINOs, or Republicans In Name Only.

In the ad, Greitens, a former Missouri governor who resigned in disgrace in 2018, is flanked by a tactical unit outside a home on a tree-lined street as he whispers, “The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice,” using a term popularized by former President Donald Trump and his allies to deride moderate or establishment Republicans.

The armed tactical team breaks through the front door and throws what appear to be flash-bang grenades inside. Greitens enters an empty living room through the smoke and says: “Join the MAGA crew. Get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

Facebook said the video was removed “for violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement.” Twitter said Greitens’ post violated its rules about abusive behavior but said it was leaving it up because it was in the “public’s interest” for the tweet to be viewable. The company’s move prevented the post from being shared any further.

The video comes at a time of renewed focus on violence in politics following fatal mass shootings and threats to government officials. Two weeks ago, a man carrying a gun, a knife and zip ties was arrested near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house after threatening to kill the justice. Around the same time, a gunman killed a retired county judge in Wisconsin before fatally shooting himself, and he had a list that included the names of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers.

On Sunday, Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of two Republicans serving on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, said he recently received a letter at his home threatening “to execute me, as well as my wife and 5-month-old child.”

Greitens is among the Republican candidates in a highly competitive Aug. 2 primary to fill the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt. The provocative new ad appeared as Greitens looks to improve his standing in the polls, jolt lackluster fundraising and move past graphic allegations of domestic abuse made in a sworn affidavit filed by his ex-wife in March in their child custody case.

Sheena Greitens has alleged that Eric Greitens was physically abusive to her and one of their sons, while demonstrating such “unstable and coercive behavior” that steps were taken to limit his access to firearms, court documents state.

The former governor has vehemently denied the allegations, but they’ve dogged him on the campaign trail. He resigned in 2018 amid criminal investigations and after he was accused of having an extramarital affair with his hairdresser and taking a compromising photo of her to keep her from talking about it.

Helen Wade, Sheena Greitens’ lawyer, told The Kansas City Star that she would “absolutely” use the new campaign video in the couple’s court case.

“This is over the line,” Wade told the newspaper while indicating she would file court papers to make the video an exhibit in the case. Wade did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Republican Caleb Rowden, majority leader of the Missouri state Senate, 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.”

Other candidates in the Senate race also condemned the video.

Republican state Sen. Dave Schatz called it “completely irresponsible.”

“That’s why I’m running. It’s time to restore sanity and reject this nonsense. Missouri deserves better,” Schatz said in a tweet.

Democratic Senate candidate Lucas Kunce tweeted that “terrorists, child abusers, and criminals” like Greitens “shouldn’t even be able to get a weapon.”

“Help me beat this guy in November, and I’ll keep our families safe from criminals like him,” Kunce said.

The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, which has endorsed state Attorney General Eric Schmitt in the Republican Senate race, denounced Greitens’ video, saying it shows that Greitens “does not possess the sound judgment necessary” to represent the state and that “he has learned nothing from the legal problems” that preceded his resignation as governor.

Greitens’ campaign dismissed the outrage that erupted over the new ad.

“If anyone doesn’t get the metaphor, they are either lying or dumb,” campaign manager Dylan Johnson said in statement.

The firestorm enveloping Greitens follows a well-worn playbook that has helped other Republican candidates juice their standing: Make an inflammatory statement or ad, wait for a backlash to develop, then cite the backlash while trying to raise money from grassroots donors online. In Greitens’ case, the actions taken by the social media giants could prove to be a further boon, tapping into resentment toward large technology companies that increasingly courses through the Republican Party.

Once a swing state, Missouri has become more reliably Republican in recent years. But the Senate race is nonetheless receiving national attention because some in the GOP establishment are anxious that, if Greitens wins the primary, he would be vulnerable against a Democrat in November. With the Senate evenly divided, the GOP can’t afford to lose what would otherwise be a safe seat.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A Norwegian national flag flutters over flowers and rainbow flags that are placed at the scene of a...
Associated Press

Norway: Suspect in deadly Pride shooting agrees to custody

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The suspect in Saturday’s mass shooting during an LGBTQ festival in Oslo has agreed to be held in pretrial custody for four weeks and will therefore not appear in court on Monday, a Norwegian court said. Zaniar Matapour, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, was arrested shortly after the predawn […]
3 hours ago
From left, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, France's Pr...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: G7 provides forum for like-minded democracies

ELMAU, Germany (AP) — In 1975, leaders of the world’s wealthy democracies gathered to deal with an energy crisis sparked by a war and rampant inflation. Those same sore points are bedeviling their successors representing 46% of the global economy at this week’s Group of Seven summit, with high consumer and energy prices threatening to […]
3 hours ago
A restaurant cook wearing a mask takes a break out on the sidewalk, Monday, June 27, 2022, in Beiji...
Associated Press

Censors delete discussion of Beijing’s future COVID control

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Digital censors quickly deleted a hashtag “the next five years” Monday as online discussion swirled in response to reported remarks of Beijing’s Communist Party secretary saying that the capital city will normalize pandemic prevention controls over the course of the next five years. Beijing’s Communist Party chief, Cai Qi, made the […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

Cyberattack forces Iran steel company to halt production

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — One of Iran’s biggest steel companies said on Monday it was forced to halt production after being hit by a cyberattack, apparently marking one of the biggest such assaults on the country’s strategic industrial sector in recent memory. The state-owned Khuzestan Steel Company said in a statement that experts […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

Cyberattack forces Iran steel company to halt production

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — One of Iran’s major steel companies said on Monday it was forced to halt production after being hit by a cyberattack, apparently marking one of the biggest such assaults on the country’s strategic industrial sector in recent memory. The state-owned Khuzestan Steel Company said experts had determined the plant […]
3 hours ago
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, right, arriv...
Associated Press

Live updates | Erdogan to meet Nordic leaders in Madrid

ELMAU, Germany (AP) — The Latest on the G-7 summit, the annual meeting of the leading democratic economies, which this year is being held in the Bavarian Alps in Germany; and on the summit of NATO leaders that will start on Tuesday in Madrid: Finnish President Sauli Niinisto says that he and the Swedish prime […]
3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Facebook removes GOP Senate candidate’s ‘RINO hunting’ video