Eric Greitens, a Republican candidate for america Senate in Missouri, released a violent recent political commercial on Monday showing himself racking a shotgun and accompanying a team of men armed with assault rifles as they stormed — SWAT team-style — right into a home seeking “RINOs,” or Republicans in name only.
“Join the MAGA crew,” Mr. Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, declares within the ad. “Get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”
The ad by Mr. Greitens was just the most recent but perhaps most menacing in a protracted line of Republican campaign ads featuring firearms and searching for to equate hard-core conservatism with using deadly weapons.
During a hearing by the committee on Thursday, J. Michael Luttig, a former federal judge widely respected by conservatives, suggested that Mr. Trump and his allies posed a “clear and present danger to American democracy.”
Using violent rhetoric has steadily increased in Republican circles in recent months as threats and aggressive imagery have change into more commonplace in community meeting rooms, congressional offices and on the campaign trail.
While much of the violent speech and image-making by Republicans has been aimed toward Democrats, a few of it, as in Mr. Greitens’s ad, has been focused on fellow party members considered insufficiently conservative.
On Sunday, Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a member of the Jan. 6 committee, published a letter addressed to his wife from someone who had threatened to execute the couple.
By midafternoon on Monday, Twitter had hidden Mr. Greitens’ recent ad behind a warning saying that it violated rules about “abusive behavior.” Facebook removed the ad altogether.
Mr. Greitens’s campaign made no apologies for it, nevertheless. “If anyone doesn’t get the metaphor, they’re either lying or dumb,” said Dylan Johnson, the campaign manager.
The ad by Mr. Greitens, a former Missouri governor, comes as his campaign for Senate has stumbled following lurid allegations of blackmail, sexual misconduct and child abuse. In March, Mr. Greitens’s former wife, Sheena Greitens, accused him of abusive behavior, including an incident she recounted that loosened considered one of their son’s teeth. Various Republicans, including Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, called on Mr. Greitens then to quit the race.
Mr. Greitens has sought an endorsement from Mr. Trump, thus far without success. His campaign chair is Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr.
Experts have warned that violent rhetoric can often end in actual physical violence.
“When individuals feel more confident and bonafide in voicing violent sentiments, it could possibly encourage others to feel more confident in making actual violence easier,” said Robert Pape, who studies political violence on the University of Chicago. “Unfortunately, this can be a self-reinforcing spiral.”
Some Republicans criticized Mr. Greitens for posting the ad.
“Every Republican should denounce this sick and dangerous ad from Eric Greitens,” Barbara Comstock, a former Republican congresswoman from Virginia, said on Monday. “That is only a taste of the ‘clear and present danger’ that Judge Luttig talked about last week.”