Twitter and Facebook flagged a United States Senate candidate’s campaign ad that urges people to hunt his fellow Republicans in name only, or RINOs. RINOs are a popular target for extremist GOP politicians.
Eric Greitens, who is running for Senate in Missouri, posted the ad, “Order your RINO hunting permit today,” on Monday morning. In it, he carries a shotgun and has a handgun tucked into his belt as he approaches what appears to be a suburban home. A mailbox outside reads, “the RINO’s den.”
“Today we’re going RINO hunting,” Greitens narrates in a stage whisper. “The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice.”
Then he and a group of heavily armed men in combat gear use a battering ram to force the door open. They throw explosive devices inside and rush in, with Greitens following.
Once inside, Greitens 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.”
Greitens briefly served as governor of Missouri. He resigned less than two years into his term amid separate allegations of sexual and campaign finance impropriety. He admitted to having an extramarital affair but denied his former mistress’s accusations that he sexually assaulted and attempted to blackmail her.
The Missouri Ethics Commission subsequently reported that Greitens didn’t personally engage in campaign finance impropriety, and said there was no evidence he knew of two reporting issues with his campaign.
Earlier this year, his ex-wife accused Greitens of abusing her and their children in a court filing concerning their ongoing child custody dispute. She also reportedly said his behavior had been so “unstable and coercive” during their marriage that they’d taken steps to limit his access to firearms. Greitens calls her allegations “baseless.”
Now he’s seeking another chance to serve the public as a member of the Senate.
It’s not clear whether Greitens’ ad is literally implying that Republicans who are more centrist or moderate should actually be killed or that they should simply be voted out of office. His campaign manager insisted it’s the latter, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune that people who don’t “get the metaphor” are “either lying or dumb.”
Some have opined that the ad may be an endeavor to differentiate himself as the furthest right in a crowded far-right field. In his tweet accompanying the ad, Greitens wrote, “We are sick and tired of the Republicans in name only surrendering to Joe Biden & the radical left.”
Facebook and Twitter found the ad violated their terms. Facebook removed it, reportedly on the grounds that it violates policies prohibiting violence and incitement.
Twitter placed it behind a disclaimer, but left it up. It reads, “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 ad has 2.5 million views on Twitter as of this writing.
Greitens’ ad was widely derided. Comments on his Facebook post complaining about the platform removing the ad include “you are a danger to the public” and “disgrace to what the Republican Party used to be.” Some suggested the ad is in particularly poor taste given recent mass shootings and the threat to United States Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Twitter users called on others to report the ad for violating the platform’s terms.
“People will die because of advertisements like this,” @duty2warn tweeted.