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Social media companies act on video from Missouri GOP candidate Eric Greitens in which he says he’s ‘RINO hunting’

Eric Greitens, a GOP candidate for Senate in Missouri, carries a gun in a new campaign ad.Screenshot/YouTube

Republican Senate candidate Eric Greitens, the former Missouri governor who resigned the post amid allegations of domestic violence and blackmail, on Monday released a video ad in which he seems to suggest physically harming his political opponents.

In the ad, Greitens identifies himself as a Navy SEAL and says he is going “RINO hunting,” using the acronym for “Republican in name only.”

“The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice,” Greitens says in the video, which shows him with a gun in his hands and another gun at his side. Men holding guns and dressed in camouflage gear then break down the door of an empty home and throw a flash bang device.

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“Join the MAGA crew,” Greitens says as he enters the home, referring to former president Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. “Make America great again.”

“Get a RINO hunting permit,” Greitens continues. “There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

Greitens tweeted the video on Monday and wrote, “We are sick and tired of the Republicans in Name Only surrendering to Joe Biden [and] the Radical Left,” and encouraged his supporters to buy a “RINO Hunting Permit.”

The candidate said Monday afternoon in a Facebook post that Facebook had removed the video. A CNN reporter posted on Twitter that a spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said it removed the video “for violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement.”

On Twitter, a message from the platform accompanying Greiten’s tweet of the video reads that while the tweet violated the platform’s rules, it will allow it to be viewed because it “may be in the public’s interest” to remain accessible. The tweet can no longer be shared.

A number of Democratic lawmakers took to Twitter to criticize the 38-second video.

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Representative Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat, wrote that “this type of [fascist] messaging needs to stop. It only encourages political violence.”

Representative Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, wrote that the ad was “sociopathic.”

“You’re going to get someone killed,” Castro’s tweet read.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas wrote on Twitter that if Greitens wins his Senate primary, he “will be the most embarrassing major party candidate in a statewide race since David Duke.” Duke, a white supremacist and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, won a Republican primary but narrowly lost a 1991 general election to become governor of Louisiana.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who has broken with the majority of the GOP in his outspoken criticism of Trump and is a member of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, referenced abuse allegations involving Greitens and called him a “very bad man.”

Greitens resigned as Missouri’s governor in 2018 after a recording surfaced in which a woman Greitens was in a sexual relationship with alleged he had taken an explicit photo of her without her permission and threatened to distribute it if she spoke about their relationship. Greitens denied the allegations of blackmail. Months later, Greitens faced felony charges of invasion of privacy in connection with the photo and tampering with computer data for allegedly illegally obtaining a donor list from a charity he helped to start.

In March 2022, Greitens’ former wife alleged in an affidavit that Greitens had physically abused her and one of their sons. Republican lawmakers, including Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, called on Greitens to resign from the Senate race as a result.

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The gun-laden video comes after deadly mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo renewed calls for tighter gun legislation. Last week, Senate Republicans announced the framework for a bill last week after days of negotiations.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.