In a newly released campaign ad, Eric Greitens — who’s running for Senate in Missouri — asks supporters to join the “hunt” for “RINOs.” The ad depicts him holding a shotgun as a group of heavily armed people break into a house alongside him. “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,” the candidate says as the whole thing unfolds.
“RINO” is an acronym for “Republican in Name Only,” and it’s used for right-wingers who are seen as insufficiently loyal to the cause, whatever that cause may be. Trump himself has repeatedly used the term. And animosity towards fellow conservatives can lead to the threat of deadly violence — “Hang Mike Pence!” some of the rioters at the Capitol last year shouted. “This dude is a clown,” ret. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said on Twitter in reference to the ad. “He’s calling for attacks on Republicans that put their obligations to the U.S. Constitution and the American people ahead of party.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who’s himself faced threats from right-wing extremists over what amounts to his less-than-enthusiastic stance towards Trump, referenced an incident in which Greitens forcibly held a woman in his basement. “Did you get a tie a girl up in the basement permit? You’re a very bad man,” the Congressman remarked. Kinzinger would likely be one of the so-called RINOs Greitens meant — Kinzinger has been consistently opposed to lies from former President Donald Trump and his goons about the integrity of the last presidential election, and in line with that, he’s serving on the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. Kinzinger is still a conservative, and he still votes in Congress like a conservative — but that’s not enough for right-wing extremists like Greitens. It’s absolute loyalty or else.
Sure, the Missouri candidate’s campaign was ready-to-go with excuses about the ad they supposedly didn’t mean to encourage literal violence — but could those behind it really be said to be unaware that there are people out there willing to put these kinds of supposedly tongue-in-cheek calls-to-action into motion? The ad was removed from Facebook by the platform. On Twitter, it was partly hidden; in at least certain contexts, you now have to click “view” to actually see it. Additionally, the platform put a message alongside the video saying: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about abusive behavior. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” The GOP primary in the race for Senate in Missouri that’ll be on the ballot this year hasn’t happened yet, so there’s still a chance Greitens won’t make it to the general election. But in the meantime, he’s a high-profile name in the race: Kimberly Guilfoyle, Don Jr.’s fiancée, is even his current campaign chair.
This dude is a clown. He’s calling for attacks on Republicans that put their obligations to the U.S. Constitution and the American people ahead of party. https://t.co/dMzZyLlcHl
— Alexander S. Vindman (@AVindman) June 20, 2022
Did you get a tie a girl up in the basement permit? You’re a very bad man. https://t.co/kCBZpia3S0
— Adam Kinzinger🇺🇦🇺🇸✌️ (@AdamKinzinger) June 20, 2022