McClatchy Washington Bureau
Former Gov. Eric Greitens put out a video Monday that showed him and a group of men in tactical gear with guns hunting Republicans who they do not deem adequately conservative, ramping up the war-like messaging of his campaign for U.S. Senate.
In the video Greitens, a Republican, carries a gun and identifies himself as a Navy SEAL. He says he’s hunting RINOs, an acronym that means “Republicans in name only.”
“Today, we’re going RINO hunting,” Greitens says in the video. “The RINO feeds on corruption and are marked by the stripes of cowardice.”
The video comes in the aftermath of two high-profile mass shootings and as Congress appears to be making progress on legislation to address gun violence. Last week, Republicans and Democrats agreed to a bipartisan framework on legislation to address mental health, school safety and make it more difficult for young people to get a gun.
It shows Greitens with a long gun walking with a group of men wearing camouflage and helmets with the American flag. They break down the door to a house, throw a smoke bomb and storm into an empty room. Greitens then walks in and asks people “join the MAGA crew” and get their “RINO hunting permits.”
MAGA is the acronym for former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “make America great again.” Trump has not yet endorsed in the Missouri primary.
“There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit and it doesn’t expire until we save our country,” Greitens says in the video.
His campaign did not immediately return a request for comment. It is unclear if the video was solely for fundraising purposes on Twitter or will be put on television.
U.S. Senate race in Missouri
Greitens is currently the front runner in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate as he tries to revive his political career after being forced to resign amid a bevy of scandals that included allegations that he sexually abused and blackmailed his mistress.
In his effort to win back support in the Republican primary, Greitens has painted himself as a victim of the political establishment.
He has cast the uproar over testimony that he bound his mistress to exercise equipment in his basement, took a nude photo of her, called her a derogatory term and forced her to perform oral sex on him as a backlash to his policies in the year and a half that he served as governor.
In March, Greitens’ ex-wife accused him of physically and emotionally abusing her and their children in sworn testimony as part of a dispute over their child custody arrangement.
As the Republican establishment has clearly stated they believe Greitens will be a politically vulnerability for the party if he wins the primary, Greitens has made “RINOs” a theme of his campaign. Earlier this month he launched an “no mo RINOs” tour where he traveled across the state to campaign. At a stop in Hannibal and Bowling Green, according to a video posted on Twitter, Greitens said his campaign was an attempt to take the country back from “RINOs.”
“The problem is the RINOs that keep stabbing real patriots in the back and kept stabbing President Trump in the back,” he said at one event. “We have announced a great wake-up call that we’re taking our country back, we’re taking it back from the left, we’re taking it back from the mainstream media and we’re taking it back from the RINOs.”
The video is not the first time Greitens has advocated for violence against his political opponents in a campaign ad. Earlier this year he appeared in a video with Donald Trump Jr. where the two fired weapons at a shooting range and said “liberals beware.”
Greitens is no longer a member of the Navy SEALs though he served with them in the early 2000s. He was blocked from returning to the SEALs in 2019, and approved instead to return to the Navy Reserves.