GOP Lawmaker Calls Cops Over Greitens’ Threatening ‘RINO Hunting’ Video

A senior Missouri GOP lawmaker said he contacted the police about GOP Senate candidate Eric Greitens’ “RINO Hunting” ad.
Cameron Joseph
Washington, US
Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ released a senate campaign ad where he declared that he’s coming after his Republican enemies and going "RINO hunting."
Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ released a senate campaign ad where he declared that he’s coming after his Republican enemies and going "RINO hunting." (Greitens for U.S. Senate)

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ new “RINO Hunting” campaign ad is so threatening that one of his state’s top Republican lawmakers felt the need to call the cops.

“We have been in contact with the Missouri Highway Patrol and hope that former Gov. Greitens finds the help he needs,” Missouri GOP Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden tweeted on Monday afternoon.

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“Anyone with multiple accusations of abuse toward women and children should probably steer clear of this rhetoric,” Rowden continued.

Rowden’s tweet came hours after Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, released an unhinged Senate campaign ad where he declared that he’s “going RINO hunting,” taking aim at “Republicans in name only”—and a pro-Greitens Twitter account tagged him specifically with threatening language. 

“The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice,” Greitens said with a grin in the ad as he poses with a long gun, before he and a crew of armed men in tactical gear break into a house, guns drawn. “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.”

Greitens’ ad comes amid an uptick in political violence in the U.S.—and is the latest example of a growing embrace of violent political rhetoric on the far right.

Rowden’s post about calling the police was in response to a tweet from @Greitens_Eric, a pro-Greitens account not affiliated with the campaign, that tagged Rowden, Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons and other Republicans and said “we’ve got our permit and we’re coming for you.” That account has since been suspended.

Greitens’ campaign manager responded saying that the Twitter account has “nothing to do” with Greitens’ campaign while laughing about the giant backlash the ad inspired:

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Greitens’ campaign clearly sought the kind of revulsion he’s now getting, and he’s not backing down: His campaign website currently prominently features a link to donate to "order your RINO hunting permit today."

Greitens was forced to resign from the Missouri governorship in 2018 after he was indicted for allegedly taking compromising photos of a woman with whom he was having an affair without her permission, then using them to blackmail her to keep quiet. That woman also accused him of physical abuse. 

Prosecutors also charged him with felony invasion of privacy but later dropped that charge

Greitens’ former wife has also accused him in court filings of threatening her and hitting their three-year-old.

He is now trying to make a political comeback, claiming he’s been exonerated and seeking the state’s open U.S. Senate seat by running hard to the right. That includes harsh attacks against the many Republicans who called for him to resign back in 2018—including ads like this that jokingly encourage violence against them.

He has a real chance of winning.

Greitens has consistently led a crowded field of candidates in polling of the race, though the primary is still months away and his lead hasn’t been large. A number of Republicans are worried he could put a safe seat in play this fall if he wins the nomination.

Republican politicians (and a handful of Democrats) have long featured guns in their ads, often stirring controversy. 

Arizona GOP Senate candidate Jim Lamon, for instance, drew criticism for a February ad where he has an Old West-style standoff and shoots guns out of the hands of people playing President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly (whose wife Gabby Giffords nearly died from gun violence). Now-Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s 2018 ad where he jokingly used his shotgun to put a scare into his daughter’s boyfriend also drew heat.

But this ad from Greitens is about as extreme an example of joking about political violence as has existed in modern American politics.