Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said on Sunday that he received a letter in the mail a few days ago threatening to execute him, his wife, and their newborn.
“There will be violence in the future,” Kinzinger said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And we can’t expect anything different until we get a handle on telling people the truth.”
Less than 24 hours later, Eric Greitens, a leading Republican Senate candidate in Missouri, released a new video in which he is shown hunting RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).
“My name is Eric Greitens, and today we’re going RINO hunting.” Greitens says this as he walks down the street with a gun in his hand.
The video cuts to a house where Greitens is waiting by the door, surrounded by a tactical unit. “The RINO feeds on corruption and is distinguished by cowardice stripes,” Greitens says. The unit smashes the door and throws what appears to be a smoke grenade. Greitens walks through the front door. “Join the MAGA crew,” he encourages. “Get a RINO hunting license.” There are no bagging or tagging restrictions, and it will not expire until we save our country.”
Given the extremely contentious nature of our political climate – not to mention the recent mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas – is it really prudent to post a video of a political opponent’s house being stormed by people armed with large firearms?
The implicit message in Greitens’ video is that it’s perfectly acceptable for armed individuals to storm a private home because, uh, the person living there doesn’t share your political and policy views. Consider that for a moment.
What’s remarkable is that this isn’t some fringe candidate desperate for attention who has no chance of winning. On the contrary. Greitens is widely regarded as one of the top candidates in the Missouri Republican Senate primary on August 2. Greitens resigned as governor of the state in 2018 following a series of ethical lapses and sexual assault allegations. He did not admit to any legal wrongdoing, and criminal charges were dropped against him.
While Donald Trump has yet to endorse Greitens, Politico reported earlier this year that the former President admires him. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, as well as state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, are also running for the Republican Senate nomination in Missouri.
What compelled Greitens to post a video that is, at best, irresponsible and, at worst, dangerous? Because he is convinced it will work.
It will bring a lot of attention to his campaign, both positive and negative. The video had more than 1 million views within three hours of being posted on Twitter.
The negative attention Greitens receives as a result of the video will be used by the candidate to demonstrate to the Republican base that Democrats and the media are concerned about him and his candidacy. I doubt Greitens’ team needed more than 24 hours to turn the negative reaction to the video into a fundraising appeal.
That demonstrates how fundamentally broken our political system is. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue to say that a video like the one Greitens posted on Monday is unacceptable. But, sadly, that is exactly what it is.