A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri was roundly rebuked Monday after releasing a violent campaign ad showing him "hunting" so-called "Republicans in name only" and inviting supporters to purchase their own "RINO-hunting permits."
"I'm Eric Greitens, Navy SEAL, and today, we're going RINO-hunting," the disgraced former Missouri governor says while cradling his double-barreled weapon. He is also packing a holstered pistol in the ad.
"The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice," he continues in the hushed tone of a wildlife documentarian before breaking into a home with heavily armed men in camouflage, who storm the residence while tossing a flash-bang grenade.
"Join the MAGA crew, get a RINO hunting permit," says Greitens as he walks through a cloud of grenade smoke. "There's no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn't expire until we save our country."
Observers from both sides of the political aisle condemned the message, which follows other violent GOP campaign ads including one in which Jim Lamon, an Arizona Republican running for U.S. Senate, shoots at President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz. —whose wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, survived being shot in the head during a 2011 assassination attempt.
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"Every Republican should denounce this sick and dangerous ad from Eric Greitens," Barbara Comstock, a former Republican congresswoman from Virginia, told the New York Times.
Daily Beast senior columnist Matt Lewis called the new Greitens ad a "dumb, dangerous troll."
"Trump and the alt-right already showed us that 'trolling' can incite violence," wrote Lewis. "So what the hell is up with this ad?"
Greitens served as Missouri's governor from January 2017 until his resignation in June 2018 amid allegations of sexual offenses and campaign finance violations.
"After former Missouri governor Eric Greitens was charged with violent sexual misconduct, his ex-wife says he bought and hid a gun," noted Shannon Watts, founder of the advocacy group Moms Demand. "He also threatened to shoot himself unless she supported him publicly. Now he's threatening to kill his political opponents."
Read more on Eric Greitens and the Missouri Senate campaign: