Saturday, August 13, 2022

Eric Greitens’ “RINO Hunt” Advert May Shake Up Missouri Senate Race

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Repeatedly, Republicans have driven each other to the right in a bid to win their 2022 primary, contests in which yielding to the activist base is often seen as a strategy for success. The Republican nominee for the Missouri Senate, Eric Greitens, has taken that to the extreme.

On Monday, the former Missouri governor — who resigned in 2018 over sexual assault charges and charges of invasion of privacy and campaign-related crimes — released a campaign ad urging voters to take up arms and “hunt” RINOs, or Republicans in name only. Holding a shotgun next to a squad in tactical gear, he says, “Join the MAGA crew. Apply for a RINO hunting license. There’s no baggage limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

The ad, which has since been removed from Facebook and hidden on Twitter with a warning, was condemned by both Democrats and some Republicans, mostly former lawmakers and current office holders who have distanced themselves from former President Donald Trump. They warned it is the same kind of rhetoric that fueled the violent U.S. Capitol uprising on Jan. 6, 2021, and has made Trump and his allies a “clear and present threat to American democracy” as J. Michael. Luttig, a former federal judge revered by conservatives, said at a recent congressional hearing.

“Every Republican should expose this sick and dangerous Eric Greitens ad,” said Barbara Comstock, a former member of the Republican Congress from Virginia. New York Times on Monday. “This is just a taste of the ‘clear and current danger’ that Judge Luttig talked about last week.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who has been labeled a RINO for criticizing Trumpwas more succinct, tweeting, “You’re a very bad man.”

Greitens said in a radio interview on KCMO Tuesday morning that his critics took the ad too seriously and that it was only meant to show that he, a former Democrat, is the true conservative in his primaries.

“It’s entertaining to see the full outrage from all the Liberal and RINO snowflakes across the country and around the state,” he said. “The people most upset about this are the RINOs. They are the ones who came out from the start and joined forces, as they always have, with the mainstream media to come out and attack us.”

But it’s hard to see the ad as a joke at a time of increasing political violence. In 2021, Threats Against Members of Congress more than doubled over the previous year, according to the US Capitol Police. And just on Sunday, Kinzinger — who was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump and is a member of the House committee investigating Jan. 6 — shared on Twitter a death threat addressed to his wife

Greitens leads his race but has been criticized even for the ad

The ad comes at a point in the race where Greitens leads the field and is likely to become the GOP nominee, despite local and national concerns of party leaders that he is too polarizing to win the general election.

The widespread outcry over the ad may well play into Greitens’ hands as he courts GOP voters, who tend to be more zealous right-wingers than the average Republican. In less than 24 hours, it was viewed more than 3.5 million times. Until now, he was the frontrunner in his education, even after his ex-wife accused him abusing her and their children in March. Average about 24.8 percent of likely voters have supported him in recent polls. His next most popular Republican opponent, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, gets an average of 21.3 percent support.

Trump has yet to endorse any candidate ahead of the August 2 primaries. Like Greitens, Schmitt, who was backed by Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee and Texas Ted Cruz, has tried to portray himself as a pro-Trump candidate.

A number of national Republicans publicly expressed their reservations about Greitens’ candidacy ahead of Monday’s ad. Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) even called him up to drop out given the allegations of family abuse against him† The ad may have been an attempt to fend off some of that criticism.

How the outrage over the ad could change the race

While it’s possible that the ad will deliver a certain segment of primary voters to Greitens, it could provide an incentive for other viable challengers to enter the Senate race, which is one of the GOP’s main goals in trying to get the job done. to take control of the room.

A group of high-profile Missouri Republicans forces John F. Wood, senior adviser to the House Jan. 6 committee, to act as an independent, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Reported† Among that group is former U.S. Senator Jack Danforth, who told the paper that Wood “would provide voters in Missouri this year with a principled, traditionally conservative choice for the United States Senate.” Wood has yet to indicate whether he will walk. But he would still have to file with the Federal Elections Commission to raise campaign funds and collect signatures to get on the ballot in November.

Danforth has said that he believes an independent candidate would stand a good chance of winning the general election based on polls conducted through his super PAC, Missouri Stands United. There is a risk that the plan would eventually hurt Republicans if it ended up splitting the GOP vote but allowing a Democrat to cruise to victory. But if the GOP’s only option is the scandal-plagued Greitens, their chances of winning the seat may also be slim.

Because of the abuse allegations against him, Greitens is seen as the easiest opponent for Lucas Kunce, the frontrunner among Greitens’ Democratic opponents, to defeat in a general election. Kunce has previously called on Greitens to step out of the race and said he hopes the ad will also mobilize the left to do more to condemn violent language by Republicans.

“All too often this kind of violent rhetoric from criminal candidates like Eric Greitens goes unanswered,” said Connor Lounsbury, Kunce’s deputy campaign manager. “We need Democrats who are not only willing to stand up for our values, but also really fight for them.”

And it’s not just Greitens; just this weekend, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chairman of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm, said in a speech that the “militant left wing in our country has become the enemy within”.

Republicans might try to pass that kind of rhetoric aimed at dissenters, sometimes in violent terms, as a mere metaphor. But as the riots in the capital and mounting threats against political officials — from Kinzinger to the election workers who testified before Congress on Tuesday about threats they faced — show, inciting political violence is a real concern.

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