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Facebook Removes GOP Senate Candidate’s ‘RINO Hunting’ Video

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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.

Within the ad, Greitens, a former Missouri governor who resigned in disgrace in 2018, is flanked by a tactical unit outside a house 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 seem like flash-bang grenades inside. Greitens enters an empty front 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 since it was within the “public’s interest” for the tweet to be viewable. The corporate’s move prevented the post from being shared any further.

The video comes at a time of renewed concentrate on violence in politics following fatal mass shootings and threats to government officials. Two weeks ago, a person 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 identical time, a gunman killed a retired county judge in Wisconsin before fatally shooting himself, and he had an inventory 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 among two Republicans serving on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol rebel, said he recently received a letter at his home threatening “to execute me, in addition to my wife and 5-month-old child.”

Greitens is among the many Republican candidates in a highly competitive Aug. 2 primary to fill the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt. The provocative latest ad appeared as Greitens looks to enhance his standing within 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 of their child custody case.

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

The previous 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 getting an extramarital affair together with his hairdresser and taking a compromising photo of her to maintain her from talking about it.

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

“That is over the road,” Wade told the newspaper while indicating she would file court papers to make the video an exhibit within the case. Wade didn’t reply to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Republican Caleb Rowden, majority leader of the Missouri state Senate, tweeted: “Now we have been in touch with the Missouri Highway Patrol and hope that former Gov. Greitens finds the assistance he needs. Anyone with multiple accusations of abuse toward women and youngsters should probably avoid this rhetoric.”

Other candidates within the Senate race also condemned the video.

We’re sick and uninterested in the Republicans in Name Only surrendering to Joe Biden & the unconventional Left.

Order your RINO Hunting Permit today! pic.twitter.com/XLMdJnAzSK

— Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) June 20, 2022

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

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

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

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

The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, which has endorsed state Attorney General Eric Schmitt within the Republican Senate race, denounced Greitens’ video, saying it shows that Greitens “doesn’t possess the sound judgment vital” 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 brand new ad.

“If anyone doesn’t get the metaphor, they’re 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 boost money from grassroots donors online. In Greitens’ case, the actions taken by the social media giants could prove to be an extra boon, tapping into resentment toward large technology corporations that increasingly courses through the Republican Party.

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

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